Qatar's Jasmine poet given life sentence for insulting the stateby Toby Manhire
But why no coverage of it on al-Jazeera?
For a tiny country with a population under two million, oil-rich Qatar gets a lot of action. Doha has hosted the interminable trade talks. And the recent climate summit. It’s HQ for al-Jazeera. And, remarkably, they’ll be hosting the football World Cup, in 2022.
But it’s no place to be a poet.
The esteemed Qatari writer Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami has just been sentenced to five years in prison “over a verse authorities claim insults the Gulf nation’s ‘symbols’ and encourages the overthrow of its ruling system”, reports the Dubai-based TV channel al-Arabiya.
The poet was arrested a year ago after a video appeared showing him reciting a verse, “Tunisian Jasmine”, which praises the revolutions of the Arab spring. Authorities judged his words to be “criticising the Emir and inciting revolt”.
And yet, notes al-Arabiya, the incident has not received airtime on al-Jazeera (al-Ajami’s intention to appeal the sentence does get a short report on their website).
Al-Jazeera has been among the most important chroniclers of the Arab Spring, but has come under criticism before for failing to apply the same level of scrutiny to its own leaders – who just happen also to be their funders.
A brand-new, puzzle-like artwork by Judy Millar at Auckland Art Gallery exuberantly fills a tough space.Read more
Councils must be barking mad to be considering spending millions more controlling cats and silencing dogs.Read more
A film-maker focuses on two thinkers who questioned the social order of their day.Read more
New Zealand is in the dark ages compared with China’s electronic payment methods and we need to upgrade if we want more of that country’s business.Read more
Peter Barton, co-owner of Burger Geek, opens a taqueria a few doors down the roadRead more
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has criticised Te Ururoa Flavell for using te reo Māori in Parliament during question time.Read more
Abuse of intellectually disabled people in state care over five decades has been brought to light in a new report by the Human Rights Commission.Read more