The Egyptian Writers Union (EWU) has condemned the sentencing of Qatari poet, Mohamed Ibn Al-Dheeb Al-Ajami, to 15 years for criticising the former emir of the country and "attempting to incite revolt" in one of his poems.
The EWU said handing Al-Ajami a final sentence for writing a poem, with no chance to appeal, is a flagrant violation of the freedom of expression and the right of every citizen to express themselves peacefully.
The Union called on the Qatari authorities to reconsider the sentence, saying his imprisonment won’t be accepted in peace, and the country will not advance if it continues to repress opinion and restrict creativity.
According to Reuters, the appeal process has been exhausted, and the sentence is final. Al-Ajami’s only chance of release is via a pardon from the Gulf state's new Emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.
The poet praised the Arab Spring revolts that toppled four authoritarian leaders, criticised Qatar's former monarch, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and mocked "sheikhs playing on PlayStations."
Qatar, a natural gas producer and home to a US military base, has so far escaped the unrest experienced in other Arab countries. Freedom of expression is tightly controlled and Qatar has no organised political opposition.