Abu Fayadh – sentenced to death for poems by Saudi Arabia

     Bill Tremblay sent me this poem by Dave Anderson about the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayyad, scheduled to be murdered by the regime in Saudi Arabia.  This Inquisitional oil regime – recalling the Catholic Inquisition –  is responsible, through the propagation of Wahhabism for most of the so-called “Islamic” terror.  It is of course the long ally of the United States.


For Ashraf Fayyad

What do you fear who would kill Ashraf Fayyad?
There is no greater guide than this poet Ashraf Fayyad.

Who knows where the elixir is stored that blooms in your head?
Go see the poet despairing in your prison: Ashraf Fayyad.
If you kill him you’ll snuff one more candle that soothes
the terror of your night. Your blessed physician is Ashraf Fayyad.
If you close yourself to poetry you’ll close your heart.
Go drink at the fountain of Ashraf Fayyad.
He has done nothing wrong: Allah sees his heart.
And woe to the man who kills Ashraf Fayyad.
Your ignorance sinks you in a fetid mire.
Your salvation is the song of Ashraf Fayyad.

Bring him out of the darkness, let him breathe.
Your days will be longer, your nights more peaceful with Ashraf Fayyad.

Dave Anderson


Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam

Friends of Palestinian Ashraf Fayadh believe he is being punished for posting video showing religious police lashing a man in public

Ashraf Fayadh, right, with art historian Chris Dercon, outgoing director of Tate Modern, attend the opening of an exhibition in Jeddah curated by Ashraf Fayadh.
 Ashraf Fayadh, right, with art historian Chris Dercon, outgoing director of Tate Modern, attend the opening of an exhibition in Jeddah curated by Ashraf Fayadh. Photograph: Ashraff Ayadh/Instagram

A Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s nascent contemporary art scene has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam. 
A Saudi court on Tuesday ordered the execution of Ashraf Fayadh, who has curated art shows in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennale. The poet, who said he did not have legal representation, was given 30 days to appeal against the ruling.
Fayadh, 35, a key member of the British-Saudi art organisation Edge of Arabia, was originally sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes by the general court in Abha, a city in the south-west of the ultraconservative kingdom, in May 2014.
But after his appeal was dismissed he was retried earlier this month and a new panel of judges ruled that his repentance did not prevent his execution.
“I was really shocked but it was expected, though I didn’t do anything that deserves death,” Fayadh told the Guardian.

Ashraf Fayadh on youtube.

 Ashraf Fayadh on YouTube. Photograph: YouTube

Mona Kareem, a migrant rights activist from Kuwait who has led a campaign for the poet’s release, said: “For one and a half years they promised him an appeal and kept intimidating him that there’s new evidence.
“He was unable to assign a lawyer because his ID was confiscated when he was arrested [in January 2014]. Then they said you must have a retrial and we’ll change the prosecutor and the judges. The new judge didn’t even talk to him, he just made the verdict.”
Fayadh’s supporters believe he is being punished by hardliners for posting a video online showing the religious police (mutaween) in Abha lashing a man in public. “Some Saudis think this was revenge by the morality police,” said Kareem.
Kareem also believes that Fayadh has been targeted because he is a Palestinian refugee, although he was born in Saudi Arabia.

The religious police first detained Fayadh in August 2013 after receiving a complaint that he was cursing against Allah and the prophet Muhammad, insulting Saudi Arabia and distributing a book of his poems that promoted atheism. Fayadh said the complaint arose from a personal dispute with another artist during a discussion about contemporary art in a cafe in Abha.
He was released on bail after one day but the police arrested him again on 1 January 2014, confiscating his ID and detaining him at a police station until he was transferred to the local prison 27 days later. According to Fayadh’s friends, when the police failed to prove that his poetry was atheist propaganda, they began berating him for smoking and having long hair.
“They accused me [of] atheism and spreading some destructive thoughts into society,” said Fayadh. He added that the book, Instructions Within, published in 2008, was “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee … about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”
The case went to trial in February 2014 when the complainant and two members of the religious police told the court that Fayadh had publicly blasphemed, promoted atheism to young people and conducted illicit relationships with women and stored some of their photographs on his mobile phone.
Fayadh denied the accusations of blasphemy and told the court he was a faithful Muslim. According to the court documents, he said: “I am repentant to God most high and am innocent of what appeared in my book mentioned in this case.”
The documents also state that he admitted that he had relationships with the women. But Fayadh said his words had been twisted: the women were fellow artists and the photos on his phone, some of which he posted on Instagram, were taken during Jeddah art week, Saudi Arabia’s most important contemporary art event.
The case highlights the tensions between hardline religious conservatives and the small but growing number of artists and activists who are tentatively pushing the boundaries of freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia, where cinema is banned and there are no art schools. Abha, which has become a hub for contemporary Saudi art, has been a focal point for these disputes in recent years. An anonymous collective of film-makers who set up a secret cinema in the city in October 2012received death threats from hardliners.
The kingdom’s best known contemporary artist, Ahmed Mater, who lives in Abha and testified in Fayadh’s defence at his first trial, said: “Ashraf is well known in Abha and the whole of Saudi Arabia. We are all praying for his release.
Stephen Stapleton, co-founder of Edge of Arabia, said Fayadh had been a key figure taking Saudi contemporary art to a global audience. 
“He was instrumental to introducing Saudi contemporary art to Britain and connecting Tate Modern to the emerging scene,” said Stapleton. “He curated a major show in Jeddah in 2013 and co-curated a show at the Venice Biennale later that year.
“I’ve known him since 2003. He’s a truly wonderful, kind person. He’s an intellectual and creative but he’s not an atheist.”
Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch, said Fayadh’s death sentence showed Saudi Arabia’s “complete intolerance of anyone who may not share government-mandated religious, political and social views”.
“The trial records in this case indicate clear due process violations, including charges that do not resemble recognisable crimes and lack of access to legal assistance,” he said.
“This case is yet another black mark on Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record in 2015, which includes the public flogging of liberal blogger Raif Badawi in January and a death sentence for Ali al-Nimr, a Saudi man accused of protest-related activities allegedly committed before he was 18 years old.
“If Saudi Arabia wishes to improve its human rights record it must release Fayadh and overhaul its justice system to prevent all prosecutions solely for peaceful speech – especially those that result in beheading.”


Ashraf Fayadh, Poems / Poesie

Probably a self portrait, taken from Instagram
Probably a self portrait, taken from Instagram
After nearly two years in prison, Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh, age 35, was sentenced to death by Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, November 17. (read more).
Dopo quasi due anni di carcere, il poeta e artista palestinese Ashraf Fayadh, 35 anni, è stato condannato a morte dall’Arabia Saudita lo scorso martedì 17 novembre. (leggi l’articolo).
Asylum: To stand at the end of a queue.
To be given a morsel of bread.
To stand!: Something your grandfather used to do.
Without knowing the reason why.
The Morsel?: You.
The homeland: A card to put in your wallet.
Money: Papers that carry images of Leaders.
The Photo: Your substitution pending your return.
And the Return: A mythological creature … from your grandmother’s tales.
End of the first lesson.
Translated by Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi from “Asylum” in Instructions Within
Asilo: Stare in piedi in coda alla fila.
Ricevere un boccone di pane.
Resistere! Qualcosa che tuo nonno era solito fare.
Senza saperne la ragione.
Il boccone? Tu.
La patria: Un documento da mettere nel portafoglio.
Denaro: Carta con sopra immagini dei leader
La foto: Il tuo sostituto previo tuo ritorno.
E il ritorno: mitologica creatura… uscita dai racconti di tua nonna.
Fine della prima lezione.
Traduzione di Chiara De Luca
اللجوء: أن تقف في آخر الصف..
كي تحصل على كسرة وطن.
الوقوف: شيء كان يفعله جدك.. دون معرفة السبب!
والكسرة: أنت.
الوطن: بطاقة توضع في محفظة النقود.
النقود: أوراق ترسم عليها صور الزعماء.
الصورة: تنوب عنك ريثما تعود.
والعودة: كائن أسطوري.. ورد في حكايات الجدة.
انتهى الدرس الأول.
I will ignore the smell of mud, and the need to reprimand the rain, and the burn that has long since settled in my chest.
I am looking for fitting consolation for my situation, which doesn’t allow me to interpret your lips however I wish
Or to brush away the drops of mist from your reddish petals
Or to ratchet down the level of obsession that overtakes me when I realize you are not beside me at the moment
And will not be… When I am forced to justify my position to the punishing silence of the night.
Just act as if the earth is silent, as we see it from a distance, and that everything that’s happened between us was not more than a bad joke that’s gone too far!

Ignorerò l’odore del fango, e il bisogno di ammonire la pioggia, e il fuoco che da allora m’imperversa in petto.
Cerco il giusto conforto per la mia situazione, che m’impedisce di leggerti le labbra sebbene lo voglia
O di spazzare via le gocce di nebbia dai tuoi petali rossastri
O di abbassare il livello di ossessione che mi schiaccia se mi accorgo che non mi sei accanto in quel momento
E non lo sarai… Quando sono costretto a giustificare la mia posizione davanti al silenzio punitivo della notte
Fare come se la terra fosse muta, mentre la vediamo in distanza, e che tutto quel che tra noi è avvenuto non fosse altro che un brutto scherzo spinto troppo oltre!
Photo by Khaled Youssef

Photo by Khaled Youssef
What do you think of the days I spent without you?
About the words that evaporated so quickly from my heavy pain?
About the knots that were deposited in my chest like dried algae?
I forgot to tell you that I’ve grown used to your absence (technically speaking)
And that wishes lose their way to your desires
And my memory is being eroded.
That I am still chasing the light, not to see, but because darkness is scary…even if we get used to it!
Would my apology be enough? For everything that has happened while I tried to make up good excuses.
Cosa pensi dei giorni che ho trascorso senza di te?
Delle parole evaporate tanto in fretta dalla dal mio greve dolore?
Dei nodi che mi sono stati posti in petto come alghe morte?
Ho scordato di dirti che ci siamo abituati all’assenza (tecnicamente parlando)
E che le speranze hanno perso la strada per i tuoi desideri
E la mia memoria è roccia che subisce l’erosione.
Che sono ancora a caccia della luce, non per vedere, ma perché il buio fa paura… anche se ci siamo abituati!
Basteranno le mie scuse? Per tutto quel che avvenne mentre cercavo d’inventarmi scuse convincenti.

Photo by Khaled Youssef
I will have to sidestep my memory
And claim that I sleep well.
I’ve got to tear out the questions
That have come looking for a rationale, to get convincing answers.
The questions that, for very personal reasons, have come after the fall of the usual punctuation.
Dovrò scansare la mia memoria
E affermare che ho dormito bene.
Ho dovuto stracciare le domande
Che sono giunte in cerca di fondamento, per avere risposte convincenti.
Le domande che, per motivi molto personali, sono giunte dopo il crollo del punto di domanda.
Let the mirror explain how beautiful you are!
Remove your dusty pile of words, breathe deeply.
Remember how much I loved you, and how the whole thing turned into an electric shock that could have caused a huge fire…in an empty warehouse!
Translated by Mona Kareem. Mona Kareem is a stateless poet and writer from Kuwait. She published two poetry collections in Arabic and is currently a doctoral candidate at the Comparative Literature department in Binghamton University. 
Lascia che lo specchio spieghi quanto sei bella!
Spazza via quel mucchio polveroso di parole e respira a fondo.
Ricorda quanto ti ho amata e come il tutto si mutò in cortocircuito che avrebbe potuto causare un enorme incendio… in un magazzino vuoto!
Traduzione italiana di Chiara De Luca dalla versione inglese di Mona Kareem. Mona Kareem è una poetessa e scrittrice apolide originaria del Quait. Ha pubblicato due raccolte poetiche in arabo ed è attualmente dottoranda presso il Dipartimento di letterature comparate dell’Università di Binghamton.