Poet gets life in prison for singing insulting song

Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami 
By: Sanvi Rizvi 

A poet received a life in prison sentence for singing a song that insulted the country’s rulers, according to court proceedings.

The poet of Qatar has been sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of trying to incite the overthrow of the ruling family of Qatar.

According to lawyer Najeeb al-Nuaimi, the court issued the sentence to Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami, who has been held in isolation since his arrest, according to press reports.

There was however, no official acknowledgment of the sentence. Nuaimi said he plans to appeal the ruling, adding that his client did not receive a fair trial.

Qatar's legislative body, the Shura Council, approved a new draft media law that prohibits publication of material deemed offensive to the royal family or endangering state security. Violators could face fines of up to $275,000 if convicted. Human rights organizations condemned the harsh, cruel and inhuman sentence, and called for his immediate release.

Nuaimi said Ajami was convicted on charges of inciting others to overthrow the regime. In his poem, which was considered an insult to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Ajami use bad words that were viewed by the court as personally attacking the emir, his lawyer said.