‘Sheiks playing on their Playstations’ – Fearful Qatar sentences critic to life in prison
A Qatari opposition figure who derided the family dictatorship as a bunch of “sheiks playing on their Playstations” has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for “insulting” the emir.
The case shows the Wahhabi regime’s vulnerability to ridicule. Qatar can dish it out to the rest of us with its Al Jazeera TV, but it can’t take it.
Regan Doherty of Reuters carries the story from Doha.
Qatar has been a major source of funds for the Muslim Brotherhood and for anti-regime uprisings in other Arab countries. It tolerates no opposition at home.
The critic, a poet named Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami, is not noted as a satirist, but has made fun of Qatari elites.
Al-Ajami supported the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia and elsewhere, and seemed to call for a democratic revolution in Qatar, though he was careful not to say so specifically. Calling for the overthrow of the ruling Al-Thani family is a crime punishable by death in Qatar.
In one of the poems for which he was convicted, al-Ajami said, in Arabic, “If the sheiks cannot carry out justice, we should change the power and give it to the beautiful woman.”
“This is wrong,” Mr. Ajami said. “You can’t have Al Jazeera in this country and put me in jail for being a poet.”