Oh, rebels, flame the revolution by the people’s blood
And sculpt in every soul the salvation of people
….Those who hold their life in their hands
Every victory preceded by tragedy
I wished it to the countries whom their leaders fool themselves
Who think sovereignty can’t be without US troops
The filthy rich countries that their people strives
The countries you sleep as a citizen and find it striped off the next day
Oh, I wish it to the regimes of inherited repression
This is a meaning-based translation to a segment of Arabic poem written by a Qatari poet Mohammed Al-Ajami. In this segment, Al-Ajami praised the Arab Spring revolutionists who brought down many regimes in the region. He wished if this revolutionary spirit visits his home and does the same change. Despite it was just a poem and merely wishes, but the cost Al-Ajami was paid is really harsh.
In last November, Al-Ajami was jailed and denied any family visit. Last week a court sentenced him to life! For instance, this case might be seen by many as a kind of injustice normal in this part of the world. However, what makes it unique at this time, is the Qatar self-image of liberal reformions that is keen to sell to the international community. Ten years ago, Qatar decided to create a CNN-like media which it resulted in Aljazeera TV news. Aljazeera has got a green light from Qatari authoroties to discuss and intervene in other countries sensitive issues like; political freedom, women and human rights, ethnic minorities’ issues and the record of human rights violation. Lots of money pumped in to make the project successful.
The way Aljazeera has preformed surprised many observers in and out of the region. It has created lots of unrest and tension in the region, especially among the ultra-conservative Arab Gulf States. Many accused Qatar of playing a Western proxy, means to divide the unity of the “Arab nation”. But the Qatari officials insisted they only respond to the wind of change that hit the whole world: the transparency and the right of free expression.
Of course those who are in a close ties with the region and know exactly what happens, don’t buy the Qatari propaganda. To them, It is obvious Aljazeera was created for two purposes – to spread the influence of Political Islam and to promote the Qatari royal family as the true reformists of the region and the whole Islamic world. It is very interesting to see that Aljazeera has never criticized or came across any Qatari issue, nevertheless, it always praised and valued by the Western politicians and the media alike.
But this time, Al-Ajami’s incident came to act as a big blow to Aljazeera credibility. During the Arab Spring, Aljazeera adopted the uprises of Tunisia and Egypt and acted as a platform to their leaders. Moreover, it covered the event in overwhelming way, to the extent that it builds a permanent studious in some places, like Egypt, for example. It brought political expertise from all over the world to talk about the human right violations in the region and produced documentaries telling the stories of the ‘prisoners of conscience’.
Al-Ajami in fact did nothing than what Aljazeera used to do during the last two years. He praised the Arab Spring the same way Aljazeera did. He wished a change to his people the same way Aljazeera justified its intervene in others business. But ironically, when Al-Ajami was treated brutally by the Qatari authorities, Aljazeera turned blind eyes. Aljazeera till today didn’t raise the case or even mentioned his case in the news. In contrast, many human rights organizations criticized Qatar authority and demanded a fair trial for him.
Al-Ajami is a definate prisoner of conscience. Principly, the role of any professional media is to highlight issues and bring them to public attention. By denying Al-Ajami this right, questions Aljazeera’s professionalism and credibility at stake. Apparently, Al-Ajami incident disclosed how Qatari’s claims of democratic reformations are facade and pseudo one.