I am a poet. I have done nothing wrong … You can’t have Al-Jazeera in this country and put me in jail for being a poet.
—Mohammad Al-Ajami [Alternative names and transliterations: Muhammad Al-Ajami, Muhammad ibn al-Ajami, Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb]
Solitary Confinement for a Poetry Slam
Mohammed al-Ajami is a Qatari poet and third year literature student at Cairo university who is serving a 15 year prison sentence in Qatar. Al-Ajami was arrested in Doha on November 16, 2011, after being summoned by state security. He was charged two days later with “inciting the overthrow of the ruling regime” and “criticizing the Emir” for two of his poems. The first poem was never written down, but spoken in a private poetry slam among friends at Cairo University in August 2010 in response to a fellow poet. Without his knowledge, the poem was secretly recorded and posted online. The second poem, “Tunisian Jasmine,” written in 2011, expresses support for the uprising there, and was also recorded and posted online. On November 29, 2012, the Criminal Court in Doha sentenced al-Ajami to life in prison and his sentence was later reduced to 15 years. That sentence was confirmed by Qatar’s Supreme Court on October 21, 2013. In the following days, two representatives from PEN American Center were denied access to al-Ajami, despite having been approved for a visit. Al-Ajami is being held solitary confinement in Doha’s Central Prison in violation of UN principles. He is married with two daughters and two sons, the youngest of which was born while he was in prison.
Source: PEN America http://www.pen.org/infographic/infographic-mohammed-al-ajami