On 15 February 2016 a group of academics, authors and translators published an open letter to urge translators to not support the Qatari regime and to withdraw from the Seventh International Translation Conference (http://tii NULL.qa/conference-registration), which will be held on 28-29 March 2016.

The letter argues that while trying to create an image of being an oasis of creativity and freedom – using awards and translations of Arabic literature as instruments to strengthen this image – Qatar has kept the poet Muhammad Al-Ajami (widely known as Ibn al-Dheeb) imprisoned. The poet has been in jail for more than four years for reciting a poem.

The signatories argue that the Translation and Interpreting Institute of Hamad bin Khalifa University, which is organising the conference, is ‘part of the Qatar Foundation family of organizations’ which ‘no one can claim … is democratic, transparent, or even non-governmental’. Thus, they conclude, being ‘guests of the State of Qatar can only serve to normalize its undeserved position as patron of Arabic literature’.

Amnesty International considers Muhammad Al-Ajami a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

The open letter can be found here (https://freealajami NULL.wordpress NULL.com/).

Here (https://www NULL.englishpen NULL.org/campaigns/qatar-join-the-call-to-free-al-ajami/) and here (https://www NULL.amnesty NULL.org/en/latest/news/2015/11/qatari-authorities-must-free-poet-serving-15-year-jail-sentence/) is more information on Al-Ajami.

 

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