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]
We are all Tunisians (Tunisian Jasmine)
by Mohammed al-Ajami
[This is the slam poem for which Mr. Al-Ajami was brutally tortured, isolated in solitary confine for heaven knows hw long, and quickly sentenced in a kangaroo court to life imprsonment. After numerous appeals from various NGOs, PEN in particular, the sentence wa reduced to fifteen years, which, while better than life, is still hopelessly absurd and ridiculous. All this for a single poem recited at a slam.]
Mr. Prime Minister Mohamed al-Ghannoushi
You don’t hold constitutional power
We don’t wax nostalgic for Ben Ali or his times
For us that’s past history
The dictatorship of a despotic and oppressive regime
Against which the people have raised their revolutionary voice
We only criticize the disgrace and the horror
And when we praise somebody it’s only because of our personal convictions
Oh revolutionary hail the struggle with the blood of the people
Carve the value of rebellion in the soul of the free
And tell those who are holding their shroud
That every victory bears its ordeals
Ah, when shall it be the turn of that country whose foolish king
Believes he can rely on the American military
Ah, when shall it be the turn of the country whose people are empty bellied
While its government time and again praises the growth of finance?
Ah, when shall it be the turn of the country where you go to sleep a citizen
And you wake up stateless the next morning?
Ah, when shall it be the turn of that repressive and hereditary regime?
Until when shall you remain a slave to selfishness?
Until when shall the people remain unaware of its value
And fail to choose its own government?
Enough with tyrannical regimes!
Tell the one who torment his people
That tomorrow someone else will take his place
He should not rest assured that the country belongs to him or his offspring
Because the country belongs to the people and so does glory
Join your voices in a chorus for a single destiny
We are all Tunisian in the face of repression
Governments and Arab governments
Are all—without exception
A gang of thieves.
And there is a question that rings obsessively in the minds of those who wonder
But shall never be answered by the official sources:
If we import all kinds of things from the West
Why can’t we import freedom and the rule of law?