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February 24 2014

October 24 2013

Qatari Poet Loses Final Appeal of 15-year Jail Sentence for ‘Threatening Overthrow’

Mohammed al-Dheeb al-Ajami

Qatar's Court of Cassation, the country's highest judicial body, upheld a 15-year prison sentence earlier this week for poet Muhammad Rashid al-Ajami, who goes by the poetic name Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb.

The Qatari citizen had been seeking a retrial after he was first convicted by a lower court last year of “inciting the overthrow of the regime” with his poetry and given a life sentence, which was then reduced by the Appeals Court in February to 15 years in jail.

“There is no justice,” Ibn al-Dheeb's outspoken lawyer Najeeb al-Nauimi told Qatar-based Doha News. “Our judicial system cannot be trusted.”

International human rights groups have widely condemned the trial of a poet as an attack on freedom of expression.

Reacting to Monday's ruling, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth questioned Qatar's free speech record:

@KenRoth: Supposed bastion of free speech via al-Jazeera, #Qatar court upholds 15-year prison term for poet–a critic of govt. http://trib.al/EViKXCm 

Amnesty International, meanwhile, renewed its calls for Ibn al-Dheeb to freed, calling him a “a prisoner of conscience”:

@jpmlynch: Amnesty calls for release of Qatari poet sentenced to 15 years in prison http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/qatar-release-poet-sentenced-15-years-prison-2013-10-21 …

The United Nations added its voice to the issue, calling the sentence “disproportionate”: 

@philippe_dam: Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay concerned by condemnation of poet Mohammed al Ajami in #Qatar & calls for his release. @NcGeehan

@RobinWigg: UNHRC on Mohammed al Ajami's 15 year sentence in Qatar for poem: “This sentence is clearly disproportionate.” You don't say.

 

Ibn al-Dheeb has been jailed in Qatar since 2011, when he returned from studies in Egypt. The charges leveled against him mentioned a 2010 poem he recited at a private gathering in Cairo in which he apparently made veiled references to Qatar's ruling family in a critical fashion. 

But the poet's defenders say his jailing is politically motivated, and stem from a poem in defense of Tunisia's uprising in which he stated “All of us are Tunisia in the face of these oppressors,” referring to Arab dictators.

That poem is available in Arabic on YouTube, and has received over 2 million views so far:

An English-language translation is also available by Kareem James Abu-Zeid.

What do you think should be the limits on freedom of expression? 

Credit: Photo by Lex Paulson

October 20 2013

Qatar recovers sites hacked by pro-Assad group

#Qatar recovers sites hacked by pro-Assad group
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/qatar-recovers-sites-hacked-pro-assad-group

Qatari authorities have restored several government websites attacked by hackers from the #Syrian_Electronic_Army, who support President Bashar al-Assad’s government, local media reported Sunday. Qatar’s Supreme Council of Information and Technology (ictQatar) said in a statement carried by local media that it has “recovered all government websites hacked on Saturday.” It said it is ready to “deal with any similar future operations.” read (...)

#syria #Top_News

September 27 2013

Qatar's migrants : how have they changed the country ? | News | theguardian.com

Qatar’s migrants: how have they changed the country? | News | theguardian.com
http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/sep/26/qatar-migrants-how-changed-the-country

Qatar has become almost unrecognisable from the tiny nation it once was. We look at the data to find out how migration changed everything and what happens when a nation swells so quickly.

The real answer lies in Qatar’s migrant population, otherwise bluntly referred to in government statistics as ’non-Qataris’. In terms of rights, migrants might not be powerful - but in numbers they are.

’Qataris’ in work: 71,076
’Non-Qataris’ in work: 1,199,107

That means immigrants make up an astounding 94% of Qatar’s workforce, and 70% of it’s total population.

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/9/25/1380127164168/Pyramids.png
#data #Qatar #migration #travail

September 10 2013

*LA VRAIE MOTIVATION DE FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE POUR PARTIR BATAILLER EN SYRIE, C'EST DE SOUTENIR…

LA VRAIE MOTIVATION DE FRANÇOIS #HOLLANDE POUR PARTIR BATAILLER EN #SYRIE, C’EST DE SOUTENIR INTÉRÊTS DE SES AMIS DU #QATAR, D’ #ISRAËL ET DES #E-U : VOIR LES AMBITIONS DU PROTOCOLE DE #DOHA

http://www.afrique-asie.fr/menu/actualite/4388-syrie-opposition-protocole-de-doha-fin-de-l-etat-syrien.html

Comme toujours une affaire de gros sous et de #géostratégie.

On comprend en fait, le pourquoi de la chose lorsque l’on connaît les clauses du « Protocole » de Doha, dont nous avons pu consulter le document, formulé en treize points qui se détermine comme suit :

1- réduction du nombre des soldats de l’armée syrienne à 50 000 ;

2- la Syrie ne pourra faire valoir son droit à sa souveraineté sur le Golan que par les moyens politiques. Les deux parties signeront des accords de paix sous l’égide des Etats-Unis et du Qatar ;

3- la Syrie doit se débarrasser, sous la supervision des Etats-Unis, de toutes ses armes chimiques et bactériologiques et de la totalité de ses missiles. Cette opération doit se dérouler sur les terres de Jordanie ;

4- annulation de toute revendication de souveraineté sur Liwa Iskandaroun et désistement au profit de la Turquie de certains villages frontaliers habités par les Turkmènes dans les « mouhafadhas » d’Alep et d’Idlib ;

5- renvoi de tous les membres du Parti des travailleurs du Kurdistan, ceux recherchés par la Turquie lui seront livrés. Inscription de ce parti sur la liste des organisations terroristes ;

6- annulation de tous les accords et conventions signés avec la Russie et la Chine dans les domaines des forages du sous-sol et de l’armement ;

7- permettre le passage à travers le territoire syrien d’un gazoduc qatari à destination de la Turquie puis de l’Europe ;

8- permettre le passage à travers le territoire syrien des conduites d’eau en provenance du barrage Atatürk et à destination d’Israël ;

9- le Qatar et les Emirats arabes unis s’engagent à reconstruire ce qui a été détruit par la guerre en Syrie à la condition que leurs sociétés aient l’exclusivité de la reconstruction et de l’exploitation du pétrole et gaz syrien ;

10- gel des relations avec l’Iran, la Russie et la Chine ;

11- rompre les relations avec Hezbollah et les mouvements de résistance palestinienne ;

12- le régime syrien sera islamique et non salafiste ;

13- le présent accord entrera en application dès la prise du pouvoir » (par l’opposition, Ndlr). Fin de citation.

#protocole_de_doha

September 08 2013

Un parc immobilier de 6 milliards d'euros pour le Qatar en France - Yahoo ! Actualités France

Un parc #immobilier de 6 milliards d’euros pour le #Qatar en France - Yahoo ! Actualités France
http://fr.news.yahoo.com/un-parc-immobilier-6-milliards-deuros-pour-le-120100368--sector.html

Le Qatar s’est constitué un parc immobilier de plus de 6 milliards d’euros sur les dix dernières années en France dans le résidentiel très haut de gamme et les sites commerciaux ou touristiques de prestige à la faveur d’un régime fiscal dérogatoire, montrent des documents administratifs et juridiques consultés par Reuters.

July 30 2013

Ecuadorian Football Player Christian Benítez Dies

Football player Christian Rogelio Benítez Betancourt died on July 29, 2013, as the official page of the Qatari club El Jaish announced. The unexpected passing of “Chucho” Benítez (as he was also known) was the result of reasons that are still unknown.

In Mexico (the country where Benítez played last season making it to the championship with Club América) journalist Paola Rojas (@Paola_Rojas_H) [es] was one of the first to report the news known:

@Paola_Rojas_H: Medios ecuatorianos informan que murió el goleador “Chucho Benítez” por un paro cardíaco.

@Paola_Rojas_H: The Ecuadorian media is reporting that the goal-scoring “Chucho Benítez” has died from a heart attack.

Several followers of the above-mentioned Mexican club expressed their grief. This was the case of Twitter user Jessy (@_Jessy19) [es], who remembered the achievements of Benítez in this way:

@_Jessy19: Chucho Benítez te fuiste del América: 79 partidos jugados,52goles,TriCAmpeón de goleo y CAMPEÓN… ¡Gracias CHUCHO! Te vamos a extrañar

@_Jessy19: Chucho Benítez you left América: 79 games played, 52goals,Three-time Top Scorer and CHAMPION… Thank you CHUCHO! We are going to miss you

Omar Cerrillo (@ocerrillo) [es], who said he was not a follower of Club América, said he felt sad, and at the same time he remembered the case of Salvador Cabañas, a football player who was shot in the head with a firearm while he served in the aforementioned club:

@ocerrillo: Que mala suerte en el #America. Primero Cabañas y ahora Benitez. Es triste, aunque uno sea antiamericanista.

@ocerrillo: What bad luck for #America. First Cabañas and now Benitez. It is sad, even if you are against América.

Mexican football player Javier “Chicharito” Hernández (@CH14_) [es] wished a prompt recovery from grief for the family of Benítez:

@CH14_: Muy triste y en shock x la noticia del fallecimiento de Chucho Benítez, pronta resignación a su familia y seres queridos… #animoEcuador

@CH14_: Very sad and in shock from the news of the passing of Chucho Benítez, wishing a prompt recovery from grief for his family and loved ones… #animoEcuador

In Ecuador, Daniela Hidalgo (@danielahidalgom) [es] said this about the death of Benítez:

@danielahidalgom: Esta madrugada falleció en #Qatar el #ChuchoBenitez producto de un infarto, El fútbol ecuatoriano de luto

@danielahidalgom: Early this morning in #Qatar #ChuchoBenitez passed away from a heart attack, Ecuadorian football is in mourning

Janina Mendoza (@janimendoza12) [es] also expressed sadness over the loss of the football player:

@janimendoza12: Nuestro futbol con terrible pérdida. Noo qué lamentable noticia lo del #chuchoBenítez falleció de paro cardíaco en Qatar. QEPD

@janimendoza12: This is a terrible loss for our football. Noo how sad the news of #chuchoBenítez passing away from a heart attack in Qatar. RIP

Joseph Blatter (@SeppBlatter) [es], President of FIFA, said this about the death of “Chucho” Benítez:

@SeppBlatter: Consternado por el fallecimiento de Chucho Benítez. Mis pensamientos están con su familia y el fútbol ecuatoriano.

@SeppBlatter: Dismayed by the passing of Chucho Benítez. My thoughts are with his family and with Ecuadorian football.

“Chucho” Benítez was born in Quito, Ecuador on May 1, 1986. During his professional career he moved around between different teams. Internationally, he is remembered for the time he spent in the Premier League of England with Birmingham City, and recently, in Latin America, he is recognized for the championship he reached in the previously named LigaMx with Club América from the Mexican capital.

July 29 2013

Bogus Doctors Apply for Qatar Hospitals

Group Qatari blog Doha News reports:

Some 66 percent of job applicants for nursing positions at state hospitals last year were found to have forged their educational qualifications, the Supreme Council of Health has said.

Some 13 percent of people applying for jobs as doctors and 21 percent up for paramedic posts also submitted fake documents.

The fraudsters were caught after their degrees were cross-checked.

Qatari Doctor Detained in UAE for Muslim Brotherhood Ties

On Doha News, Shabina Khatri shares the story of a Qatari doctor Dr Mahmood Al Jaidah, detained in the neighbouring UAE under suspicion of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Doha News reports:

According to his lawyer Abdullah Tahir, who has been tweeting about the case, Al Jaidah has also been accused of accepting an envelope with Dh100,000 (about QR100,000) from an Emirati to be handed over to another UAE citizen in Qatar.

[...]

Unlike in Qatar, which has had strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the UAE has little tolerance for the group.

Earlier this month, a UAE court sentenced 56 individuals affiliated with Al Islah to prison for three to ten years over charges of trying to overthrow the government. Eight people were sentenced in absentia to 15 years in jail and 26 were acquitted.

Al Jaidah's family denies he is linked to the group.

July 08 2013

Al Jazeera Accused of “Biased” Egypt Coverage

This post is a part of our Special Coverage Egyptians Overthrow Morsi

Al Jazeera has come under fire in Egypt for what many describe as its “biased” reporting during and following the ousting of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi on July 4. The Qatar-based channel is being accused of siding with the Muslim Brotherhood and being its mouthpiece.

After Morsi was removed from office by the Army, Al Jazeera's Live Egypt service, Al Jazeera Mubasher, was immediately taken off air. The network announced:

Al Jazeera's live Egypt service have been taken off air along with several other TV channels.

Reports from our correspondents say this happened during a live broadcast when security forces stormed the building and arrested the presenter, guests and producers.

Two days later, the Downtown Cairo prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for the channel's news director Abdel Fattah Fayed. Fayed is being charged with “threatening public peace and national security through broadcasting incendiary news.” He was detained for two days and then released on bail.

And today saw mass resignation of 22 staff members of staff over what they claimed to be “coverage that was out of sync with real events in Egypt.” Other reports [ar] say that 26 Egyptian employees have resigned, http://www.emaratalyoum.com/egypt-latest/2013-07-08-1.590061?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter , including four in the main Doha office.

One of the reporters, Wesam Fadhel reportedly resigned in a Facebook post [ar]. The note reads:

I resigned from Al Jazeera today. It's lying openly. They are showing old footage from an empty Tahrir and saying it was taken a short while ago and they are airing the scenes for hours. When I asked Ahmed Abu Al Mahasen for the reason he said that I should mind my own business. Al Jazeera cameras are in Tahrir live now. Sadly I used to work in a place which I thought had credibility but [I now realise] its credibility is based on a despicable political stance.

On Twitter, Elijah Zarwan comments:

@elijahzarwan: Al-Jazeera Egypt staff resign after ‘biased coverage’: Resigning June 1 wld have been courageous http://tinyurl.com/mjculx8

And Nezar AlSayyad adds:


@nezar:
Al Jazeera Cable has recently become to Islamists in Egypt what Fox News has been to fundamentalist Republicans in the US for many years.

In another development, Rawya Rageh, Al Jazeera's reporter in Cairo, tweets photographs of threatening flyers dropped outside Al Jazeera's Cairo offices today:

A threatening leaflet dropped outside Al Jazeera office in Cairo. Photograph shared on Twitter by @RawyaRageh

A threatening leaflet dropped outside Al Jazeera office in Cairo. Photograph shared on Twitter by @RawyaRageh

@RawyaRageh: Threatening leaflets dropped near AlJazeera's offices in Cairo – bloodied hand & line ‘lies & other lies’ #Egypt

A lying camera kills a nation reads a flyer thrown outside Al Jazeera office in Cairo. Photograph shared by @RawyaRageh on Twitter

A lying camera kills a nation reads a flyer thrown outside Al Jazeera office in Cairo. Photograph shared by @RawyaRageh on Twitter

@RawyaRageh: ‘A bullet may kill a person, a lying camera kills a nation’ on flyer dropped near AlJazeera's offices #Egypt

This post is a part of our Special Coverage Egyptians Overthrow Morsi

June 25 2013

Tamim Bin Hamad Named New Qatar Emir

Former Qatari ruler Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani handed power today to his fourth son, Shaikh Tamim. Qatar Living maintains a live blog here to cover the story.

May 31 2013

Qatar: New Cyber Crime Law Could Threaten Online Speech

Qatar is looking to shore up its legislation regarding cybercrime, including punishment for accessing sensitive government data, but a draft law recently approved by the country's cabinet also puts limits on online expression.

The state-run Qatar News Agency published a brief about it (http://www.qnaol.net/QNAEn/NewsBulletin/Pages/default.aspx — have to click on date, May 29 and find the “Cabinet” update):

“[The cabinet] approved a draft law to enact a law on fighting cyber crimes and to refer it to the Advisory Council. The law punishes anyone who manages, via the internet or any information technology means, without a right, to enter an electronic website and informational system of any of the state's organs, institutions, authorities or otherwise affiliated bodies or companies thereon, and anyone who establishes or runs an electronic site via the internet or any information technology means, or publishes false news with the aim of jeopardizing the state safety, its general order, internal or external security.”

But more importantly – as far as online freedom of speech is concerned – QNA reports:

“The law also punishes any one who infringes on the social principles or values or otherwise publishes news, photos, audio or visual recordings related to the sanctity of the private and familial life of persons, even if they were true, or infringes on others by libel or slander via the Internet or other information technology means.”

No further information about the draft law has been released yet, but it's clear that the language is sufficiently vague enough to have wide-reaching implications about what you can and cannot say online in Qatar.

Last year, the UAE passed strict cybercrime laws that activists say “stifle free expression” and “attacks free speech”, and the fear is that Qatar's new bill could go the same way.

Reaction in Qatar has obviously been pretty negative so far:

On Twitter, writer Christine GerberRutt called it “unacceptable”:

@JustKooki1: Unacceptable. Under the new law that one word could get me in prison for 3 years. #qatar #freedom http://fb.me/B2pTUWll

While others express fear:

@scampyfries: Be afraid, be very afraid! Qatar's new cybercrime law raises concerns over freedom of online expression http://tmblr.co/ZJn_jxmACWo6

@JohnLaprise: This is problematic. Qatar’s new draft cybercrime law raises concerns over freedom of online expression http://dohanews.co/post/51710659718/qatar-new-draft-cybercrime-law-raises-concerns-over#.UacYkrR7UZQ.twitter  via @dohanews

Commenting about the draft law on Dohanews.co (my website), Joh Laprise, a professor at Northwestern University in Qatar, expands on this a bit:

“Given national privacy norms, if I read this correctly, any individual capturing any content which depicts or records individuals must get their express permission or potentially be punished.”

Another commenter, going by the name iamthexxx, responds:

Not surprising! The only surprise is why they haven't banned Facebook and twitter and all social media?
Another law to suppress critics! way to go!
Things are getting better day by day!!

While on Twitter, blogger and web designer Xtian guesses he won't be able to write much anymore:

@xtian001: No more bad reviews of services, restaurants, hotels when Qatar Cybercrime Law gets passed? No more horrendous parking photos either!

In conversation with Sultan AlQassemi, Emirati professor Abdulkhaleq Abdulla
adds:

@Abdulkhaleq_UAE: @SultanAlQassemi it is getting tight all over the place. Enjoy it before it gets more restrictive.

So, get it out of your system while you can!

March 13 2013

Arab World: Pope Alert, White Smoke

Arab netizens joined the rest of the world today in awaiting news of a new pope, who will replace Benedict XVI.

As soon as the white smoke bellowed from the Sistine Chapel, Lebanese Nada Akl quipped:

@Nada_Akl: Pope alert, white smoke

Libyan Ismael wondered:

@ChangeInLibya: That's alot of white smoke. Are you sure it's just the ballots they're burning in there? #Suspicious

Syrian Karl Sharro said:

@KarleMarks: Once again, the cardinals have defeated us. They managed to elect a new pope before we managed to come up with a single funny pope joke.

And Egyptian Alyaa Gad joked:

@AlyaaGad: White smoke from the Sistine Chapel indicates that the cardinals finished having their (burned) dinner and now it's time for a joint. #Pope

Arab netizens also played guessing games on the name of the new pope, which has not been announced at the time of writing this post.

Lebanese-American Asad Abukhalil announced [ar]:

تسرّب إسم البابا الجديد: جورج دبليو بوش. مبروك.


@asadabukhalil
: The name of the new pope has been leaked: it's George W. Bush. Congratulations.

And Free Tunisian noted:

فاليري سئلت عن هوية البابا الجديد فأجابت نازحة ” أكيد قطري … أنهم يشترون كل شيئ

@tounsiahourra: Valerie [a reader] asked me about the identity of the new pope so I answered joking: “It is certainly a Qatari. They buy everything.”

March 08 2013

Dima Al Khatib Remembers Hugo Chavez

Some liked him, others hated him, but the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez held a special place in the heart of Arab journalist Dima Al Khatib. As Al Jazeera's Latin America bureau chief, the Syrian-born Palestinian journalist developed a close relationship with Chavez during her 10-year stay in Caracas. Al Khatib, who is now teaching in Dubai, reveals more about this bond in a series of tweets following his death on Tuesday [March 5, 2013].

In addition to her tweets, Khatib went back to the studio to give a series of interviews on Chavez.

On Twitter, she explains [ar]:

تعرفت على الراحل أوغو تشافس في سبتمبر أيلول ٢٠٠٢ في كاراكاس، أي قبل أكثر من ١٠ سنوات. أجريت معه ٥ لقاءات خاصة ورافقته في ترحاله حول العالم

@Dima_Khatib: I got to know Hugo Chavez in September 2002 in Caracas, more than 10 years ago. I conducted five exclusive interviews with him and traveled with him around the world

She adds:

#ذكريات_تشافس كنتُ الصحفية الأجنبية الوحيدة، وأحياناً حتى الصحفية الوحيدة على الإطلاق التي كانت ترافق تشافس في ترحاله داخل فنزويلا وخارجها

@Dima_Khatib: I was the only foreign journalist, and sometimes and only journalist at all, who has accompanied Chavez on his travels in Venezuela and abroad

And says:

#ذكريات_تشافس كلما رآني كان يقول : السلام عليكم ، بالعربية

@Dima_Khatib: Every time he met me, he would say Al Salam Alaykom (Greeting: Peace be on you) in Arabic

Many recalled Khatib's closeness to Chavez. Tunisian journalist tounsiahorra tweets:

تذكرت لقاءكما انت وشافيز في مقر الجزيرة…. ذلك الود والبساطة التي جمعتكما. الصحافية والزعيم جنبا الى جنب دون بروتوكولات


@tounsiahorra
: I remembered your meeting with Chavez at Al Jazeera's headquarters [in Doha, Qatar]. Friendship and simplicity joined you. The journalist and the leader, side by side, without any protocols

Khatib shares many tidbits of information about Chavez on her Twitter account, which has become popular during the Arab uprisings. She asks:

@Dima_Khatib: Who would have thought that Fidel Castro would stay.. and Hugo Chavez would go ?

Dima Al Khatib speaks to Al Jazeera about Chavez following his death on Tuesday. Photograph from Khatib's Instagram

Dima Al Khatib speaks to Al Jazeera about Chavez following his death on Tuesday. Photograph from Khatib's Instagram

In response to a question on whether people in Venezuela like him, Khatib responds:

@Dima_Khatib: Many do. Others don't. But yes he is a popular guy. You either love him or hate him. Very polarising

In another tweet, she wonders whether Arabs too are polarised in their opinion. She reasons:

نعم أعرف .. نحن العرب محتارون .. نحزن أم لا نحزن على رحيل تشافس؟.. هو دعم فلسطين كما فعل قليلون في عصرنا، ثم لم يدعم الثورات العربية

@Dima_Khatib: Yes, I know. We Arabs are confused. Shall we feel sad or not on Chavez's departure? He has supported the Palestinian cause like very few in this era. And then again, he did not support the Arab uprisings.

On her memories with Chavez, Khatib is debating writing a book.

قد أكتب يوماً ما عن تجاربي مع تشافس .. والأحاديث التي دارت بيني وبينه عن قضايا كثيرة .. على مدى عشر سنوات .. وقد لا أكتب .. لا أعرف صراحة

@Dima_Khatib: I might one day write about my experiences with Chavez and the conversations we had over many issues.. over 10 years .. and I might not. I honestly don't know.

December 29 2012

MENA: Acclaimed Authors’ Favorites of 2012

M. Lynx Qualey, blogger, who is interested in Arab and Arabic literature, wrote a series of posts introducing acclaimed Arab poets, novelists, and short-story writers’ favorite Arab reads of 2012. She started with a list of nonfiction books, then followed by a list for poetry [En] and fiction [En].

November 30 2012

Life Sentence for Qatari Poet for Insulting Amir

Qatar today sentenced Mohamed Bin Rashid Al-Deeb to life in prison .. for writing a poem. The poem, in Arabic, is said to praise the Arab Spring, drawing comparisons to other countries living in repression and under dictatorship.

According to Qatari journalist Abdulla Al Athbah, Al-Deeb's poem was seen as insulting to the Qatari Amir [Ruler], and called for overthrowing his rule.

He tweets [ar]:

محكمة “الدرجة الأولى” في #قطر تصدر حكمها بالسجن المؤبد بحق محمد بن راشد الذيب بعد قصائد اعتبرتها تطاولا على الذات الأميرية وتدعو لقلب الحكم

.

@A_AlAthbah: The First Instance Court in Qatar sentences Mohamed Bin Rashid Al-Deeb to life in prison for poems it considered insulting to the Amir and which called for over-throwing his rule.

On Lockerz, Maysaa Alamoudi shares a photograph of a copy of one of his poems, that allegedly landed the poet into trouble with the law.

A copy of a poem by Al-Deeb

A copy of a poem by Al-Deeb

Zaid Benjamin posts the verdict in the case:

@zaidbenjamin: Picture: The verdict in the case of Mohamed Bin al-Deeb al-Ajmi who was sentenced to life in prison in #Qatar today pic.twitter.com/VDvyde9R

Mohamed Al-Deeb's life sentence

Mohamed Al-Deeb's life sentence. Photograph shared by @zaidbenjamin on Twitter

In Arabic, the hashtag #محمد_بن_الذيب_مؤبد which translates to Life Imprisonment for Mohamed Al-Deeb soon followed. Under the hashtag netizens from across the Arab world decried the verdict, which they say is a blow to freedom of expression.

Mofareg Alshuya, from Saudi Arabia, says the verdict was too strict. He tweets [ar]:

حكم على #محمد_بن_الذيب_مؤبد ..كنت متوقعاً أن يُحكم عليه لكن بهذا الحكم ولأجل قصيدة…في الحقيقة لم يخطر الحكم هذا على تفكير أكثر المتشائمين.

@MofarehAlshuyah: I was expecting that he would be sentenced but with this sentence and for a poem .. In reality, this verdict did not even cross the minds of the most pessimistic people

Also from Saudi Arabia, Seba Alhamad says:

بلد يسجن خوفا من شاعر و اخر خوفا من رسام كاركتير كم هي هشة امبراطوريات الاسلحة امام القلم

@SebaHmd: A country which jails its people out of fear from a poet and another jails it people out of fear from a cartoonist. How fragile are those empires of weapons in front of the pen

And Egyptian Menna comments:

@TheMiinz: Life Sentence for Mohamed Ben ElZeeb for a poem about Arab Spring and Qatari Emir. The Arabs are going nowhere. #Qatar

Omani OmanLover suggests airing the appeal to the verdict, when it happens - live - on Qatar's Al Jazeera, which comes under constant criticism for not covering negative stories on Qatar.

However, Emad Silawi calls on people to wait for the verdict:

الى كل المغردين في هذا الموضوع اقول ان قطر دولة قانون وممكن يستأنف الحكم وممكن يطلع عفو أميري ولا تصيدون في الماء العكر

@emadsilawi: To all those tweeting about this topic I have to say that Qatar is a country of law and this verdict can be appealed or he could get a pardon from the Amir

And Ahmed Al Rashdii asks them to mind their own business:

ينتقدون قطر ب حكم #محمد_بن_الذيب_مؤبد ويصمتون عما يحدث في اوطانهم . البعض اختفى والبعض سحبت جنسيته والبعض سجن . اين انتم من احرار اوطانكم ؟!

@ahmed_alrashdii: They criticise Qatar for Mohamed Bin Al-Deeb's verdict and shut up when it comes to what is happening in their own countries, where some have disappeared, others have had their nationalities withdrawn and many are in prison. Where are you from the freedom fighters in your own countries?

November 29 2012

Life Sentence for Qatari Poet for Insulting Amir

Qatar today sentenced Mohamed Bin Rashid Al-Deeb to life in prison .. for writing a poem. The poem, in Arabic, is said to praise the Arab Spring, drawing comparisons to other countries living in repression and under dictatorship.

According to Qatari journalist Abdulla Al Athbah, Al-Deeb's poem was seen as insulting to the Qatari Amir [Ruler], and called for overthrowing his rule.

He tweets [ar]:

محكمة “الدرجة الأولى” في #قطر تصدر حكمها بالسجن المؤبد بحق محمد بن راشد الذيب بعد قصائد اعتبرتها تطاولا على الذات الأميرية وتدعو لقلب الحكم

.

@A_AlAthbah: The First Instance Court in Qatar sentences Mohamed Bin Rashid Al-Deeb to life in prison for poems it considered insulting to the Amir and which called for over-throwing his rule.

On Lockerz, Maysaa Alamoudi shares a photograph of a copy of one of his poems, that allegedly landed the poet into trouble with the law.

A copy of a poem by Al-Deeb

A copy of a poem by Al-Deeb

Zaid Benjamin posts the verdict in the case:

@zaidbenjamin: Picture: The verdict in the case of Mohamed Bin al-Deeb al-Ajmi who was sentenced to life in prison in #Qatar today pic.twitter.com/VDvyde9R

Mohamed Al-Deeb's life sentence

Mohamed Al-Deeb's life sentence. Photograph shared by @zaidbenjamin on Twitter

In Arabic, the hashtag #محمد_بن_الذيب_مؤبد which translates to Life Imprisonment for Mohamed Al-Deeb soon followed. Under the hashtag netizens from across the Arab world decried the verdict, which they say is a blow to freedom of expression.

Mofareg Alshuya, from Saudi Arabia, says the verdict was too strict. He tweets [ar]:

حكم على #محمد_بن_الذيب_مؤبد ..كنت متوقعاً أن يُحكم عليه لكن بهذا الحكم ولأجل قصيدة…في الحقيقة لم يخطر الحكم هذا على تفكير أكثر المتشائمين.

@MofarehAlshuyah: I was expecting that he would be sentenced but with this sentence and for a poem .. In reality, this verdict did not even cross the minds of the most pessimistic people

Also from Saudi Arabia, Seba Alhamad says:

بلد يسجن خوفا من شاعر و اخر خوفا من رسام كاركتير كم هي هشة امبراطوريات الاسلحة امام القلم

@SebaHmd: A country which jails its people out of fear from a poet and another jails it people out of fear from a cartoonist. How fragile are those empires of weapons in front of the pen

And Egyptian Menna comments:

@TheMiinz: Life Sentence for Mohamed Ben ElZeeb for a poem about Arab Spring and Qatari Emir. The Arabs are going nowhere. #Qatar

Omani OmanLover suggests airing the appeal to the verdict, when it happens - live - on Qatar's Al Jazeera, which comes under constant criticism for not covering negative stories on Qatar.

However, Emad Silawi calls on people to wait for the verdict:

الى كل المغردين في هذا الموضوع اقول ان قطر دولة قانون وممكن يستأنف الحكم وممكن يطلع عفو أميري ولا تصيدون في الماء العكر

@emadsilawi: To all those tweeting about this topic I have to say that Qatar is a country of law and this verdict can be appealed or he could get a pardon from the Amir

And Ahmed Al Rashdii asks them to mind their own business:

ينتقدون قطر ب حكم #محمد_بن_الذيب_مؤبد ويصمتون عما يحدث في اوطانهم . البعض اختفى والبعض سحبت جنسيته والبعض سجن . اين انتم من احرار اوطانكم ؟!

@ahmed_alrashdii: They criticise Qatar for Mohamed Bin Al-Deeb's verdict and shut up when it comes to what is happening in their own countries, where some have disappeared, others have had their nationalities withdrawn and many are in prison. Where are you from the freedom fighters in your own countries?

November 17 2012

Why is the GCC Quiet about Gaza?

“Gulf countries awfully quiet about Gaza,” tweets Foreign Policy editor Blake Hounshell. Lebanese journalist Antoun Issa adds:

@antissa: Amazing how eager GCC are to arm Arabs to fight each other, while disappearing completely when it comes to Palestine. #Gaza

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is made up of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

August 28 2012

Lebanon: Tourism Pays the Ultimate Price

Lebanon lacks oil and mineral resources. It is geographically too small to be independent in terms of agriculture. And the only way the country can survive is by relying on its services sector, mainly tourism, if and when politics permit.

But Lebanon has not been lucky with this regard. It has been plagued with a 30 year civil war which repelled tourists. After that, and whenever the Lebanese tried to attract visitors to the Land of the Cedars, whether Westerners or Arabs, a calamity would take place and all efforts to promote the tourism sector would go in vain.

Just to name some of the few incidents which impacted Lebanese tourism recently: the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005 and the wave of other political murders which followed, the July 2006 war with Israel, the May 2008 internal conflict between different political factions, and the recent events with the divide over the Syrian crisis and the return of kidnappings to the local scene.

With the warning of embassies to their citizens to leave Lebanon, reservations in hotels dropped by 60 per cent the week of August 14th. Cancellations are also noted in terms of flight reservations.

On Twitter, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted the Embassy number in Beirut, urging its citizens in Lebanon to contact their Embassy to ensure their swift return back to their home:

لمواطني الدولة المتواجدين حاليا في لبنان التواصل مع سفارة الدولة في بيروت على الرقم009611857000 أو بادارة العمليات على الرقم00971600599991
@MOFAUAE For the citizens currently in Lebanon, please contact the Embassy in Beirut on the following number () or the operations on …

In return, Lebanese netizens are mourning the tourism season.

Najib from Blog Baladi is sad:

All in all, I think this is the worst summer we’ve had in Lebanon for the past 10 years, even worse than the 2006 summer. That’s really sad specially with all the potential we have in this country.

On Twitter, Rawad Khoueiry summarizes the situation:

@rawadkhoueirySummer Tourism in lebanon: No Electricity, Mokdad Military Wing, Airport Road Cut, North Frontier Shooting

Wael Abou Diab explains the causes [ar]:

#بيروت تعاني …فنادق فارغة و سياحة شبه معدومة و الأسباب أمنية إقليمية عشائرية
@Waelad: Beirut is suffering. Empty hotels, quasi non-existing tourism. The reasons are sectarian, regional and related to the clans.

But as usual Lebanese sense of humour is always present against all odds.

Ralph Nader believes that the huge number of Syrians taking refuge in Lebanon will make it up for the loss of Gulf nationals.

@Aamchit: Tourism is booming in Lebanon. People are coming from Damascus, Tartous, Homs, Aleppo, Deir El Zor and many other cities. #irony

Tourists have become such a rare species in Lebanon that Bechara is surprised.

@BouCha2ra: Guess what?! I saw a tourist yesterday! m/ O.o #Lebanon

Zeina Mhanna is also sarcastic:

@MissZenaH: Today I had a Turkish tourist client.. I gave her directions to protect herself from aliens abduction in #Lebanon

Wajih has been visiting Istanbul and that is how he is promoting tourism for his country:

@neruda906: Someone tell the Minister of Tourism I'm doing a great job here, I'm convincing everybody I meet not to visit Beirut :) #Lebanon

Gulf Netizens React

With Al Mekdad Clan threatening to kidnap them, nationals from the Gulf were disappointed.

Maktoum Bin Butti, from the UAE, notes:

@Makoumbinbutti: GCC countries supported Lebanon financially and boosted their tourism & in return they get kidnapped #awkward#GCC

AbdulRahman Al Haji calls his fellow citizen to boycott Lebanon:

من اليوم فصاعداً يا سواح الخليج قاطعوا لبنان بروحهم دولة دايخة قاطعوهم قاطعوهم
@alhajji1963: From now, Gulf tourists, boycott Lebanon, a confusing state. Boycott them. Boycott them

Borzou Daraghi, who is MENA correspondent for the Financial Times, believes Jordan and Turkey will benefit mostly from what is happening in Lebanon

@Borzou: With #Syria, #Egypt & now #Lebanon off the rich Gulf Arab tourist circuit I bet #Turkey & #Jordan will be raking in the cash

August 23 2012

Lebanon: It's Back to Kidnapping Time

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

22 May 2012: 11 Shiite Lebanese got kidnapped on their way back to their homeland from a pilgrimage in Iran. The abductors are said to belong to the Free Syrian Army (FSA). There are many rumors about their fate or even their location. Their relatives have been protesting in front of the various embassies (Turkish, Qatari,…) and burning tires in protest since.

August 13: Hassan Salim el Mekdad, another Shiite, was kidnapped in Syria, allegedly by the FSA too.

These actions might be explained by the fact that Hassan Nassrallah, the general secretary of the shiite Hezbollah Party, has been supporting Syria's president Bashar Al Assad.

In response, Al Mekdad Family or clan started kidnapping Syrians, who are thought to belong to the FSA, as well as two Turkish citizens. It has even threatened to  target other nationalities such as Saudis and Arab Gulf nationals, prompting various embassies to ask their citizens to leave the country immediately.

In brief, the situation is quite gloomy and nothing is clear yet.

Netizens in Lebanon commented on all these events.

Dutch journalist Fernande van Tetsbased, who is based in Lebanon, provided some figures about the structure of clans in Lebanon:

If we’re talking figures, I was told the Zaitar clan is 30000 strong, the Moqdad family has  15 0000 member and the Shamas clan 8000. All these clans operate beyond the reaches of the law and the Lebanese Armed Forces do not dare to enter their territory. Neither do the Internal Security Forces usually, as the 30 000 outstanding warrants mentioned in the article testify.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese are angry and are blaming everyone. Zak, from Lebanon Spring, believes that Hezbollah is responsible for all that is happening in the country. He writes:

Hezbollah is responsible because they set a precedent in May 7 which got everyone to think that the only effective way to fulfill their demands and solve their problems is by violence. Other results of this jungle-law-thinking are obviously discarding the presence of the government and inciting sectarianism. So, as a result of that, we got local militias to surface like the Sunni ones in the north (& other places) and Al-Mokdad family militia (as if they didn’t exist before like many other Bekaa tribes), and road blockers like Sheikh Ahmad Al-Assir. And all of them practise pure chaos.

But the FSA is as guilty as the party:

Free Syrian Army is also responsible by inviting Hezbollah or Shiite community to the fighting field by starting that kidnapping spree. First with the 11 kidnapped Shia pilgrims months ago, and with Hassan Al-Mokdad last week. FSA (non-officially) claims the kidnapped individuals to be Hezbollah fighters, but the evidence or scene don’t suggest that.

US-based Lebanese As'ad AbuKhalil or Angry Arab writes for Al Akhbar newspaper's blog , blaming the Lebanese government for the loss of control:

What is clear though is that innocent Syrian workers in Lebanon were subjected to more abuse and more attacks. Just as the FSA gangs claimed that their hostages are members of Hezbollah, the Mokdads claimed that their hostages were fighters with the Free Syrian Army. Neither side bothered with providing us with evidence.

He continues:

The Western and the Saudi/Qatari-funded Arab press ignored the plight of the Lebanese hostages in Syria, just as the failed Lebanese government ignored them. But there is something dangerous looking over Lebanon and Syria. The spate of sectarian kidnappings reminded people of my generation of the beginning of the sectarian civil war.

Funky Ozzi  recalls the old scenario where Lebanon was just a “playground for the region”:

Conclusion? It's 1990s all over again, it's stupid Lebanese politicians who only care about being rich, it's militias who want to remain in Power, it's a playground for the region. And finally Syria always drags Lebanon into shit, and this time, its own shit. وحدة المصير والمسار
Of course, there is always mis-information by the media, the 11 kidnapped in Syria have been killed, then the 11 kidnapped were not killed… so what is it?
My analysis might not go in depth because 10 years ago I noticed every news episode was a Deja Vu and decided to only check up on it once in a while. However, core stays the same, only the players (somehow) change and main victim remains countries like Lebanon whose leaders don't care about it.

Meanwhile, Elie, from A Lebanese State of Mind, notes that there are other Lebanese detainees in Syria, some of whom have been missing for more than 30 years but whom no one has burnt a single tire for. He says that in Lebanon there different classes of Lebanese prisoners in Syria.

Every other Lebanese prisoner present in Syrian prisons or still missing because of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Their parents have been protesting for the past 5 years non-stop, asking for any news about their sons and daughters. They’ve been hearing nothing. The parents of these men and women don’t want their children to return alive anymore; they just want any news about their children for the sake of a thirty-years stretched out closure. Even that is too much to ask for.

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

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