Emir of Qatar: Free Poet Mohammad al-Ajami!

Life in prison for writing a poem? On November 29, 2012, Qatari poet Muhammad al-Ajami was handed a life sentence for “insulting” the Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and “inciting to overthrow the ruling system.” These claims came after a video was posted on the internet of Ajami reciting his poetic tribute to the Arab Spring, "Tunisian Jasmine."

Qatar, a major US ally in the Middle East, holds itself out as a defender of human rights. Deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, Joe Stork, said, “Qatar, after all its posturing as a supporter of freedom, turns out to be determined to keep its citizens quiet.”

Ajami’s lawyer has filed an appeal, and the case will be heard on December 30th. The Emir, however, has the power to pardon Ajami. 

Please send this letter the Emir of Qatar, call the Embassy at (202) 274-1600 (press 1 four times to leave a message with the ambassador's office).

For more info, read this article in the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, see the Human Rights Watch coverage, and download this document from Amnesty International

Ambassador Mohamed Bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi

Embassy of Qatar
2555 M St NW
Washington, DC 20037

Please also submit a haiku.  Haikus are poems composed of three lines. 5 syllables, then 7 syllables, then 5 syllables.  Here's an example:

Poet is a free man
Caught in a solid square
Come, help set him free!

Your haikus will be delivered to the Embassy of Qatar in Washington, DC, at noon on Wednesday, December 19, read aloud at a public slam, and shared online.  Email your haikus to mobbie[at]codepink.org or submit using the form you'll see after sending your letter below.