The Poem That Will Get You Arrested If Posted On Social Media

The Poem That Will Get You Arrested If Posted On Social Media

Avatar of Maria Suarez

By: Maria Suarez

February 10, 2017

Books The Poem That Will Get You Arrested If Posted On Social Media
Avatar of Maria Suarez

By: Maria Suarez

February 10, 2017

We hold the weight of the world in our hands, pockets, purses, or wherever we carry our phones in. This gadget that weighs less than a small cappuccino can provide us with any answer we want. We can say whatever we’d like to the world. Sometimes we might go back and edit or erase a picture or comment we posted, but beyond social embarrassment, and at times harassment, we’re not worried about being arrested over a tweet or post.

But what if someone believed that what you published online was so controversial and incendiary that you were denied of any freedom? If you had a chance to speak your mind, knowing you could be arrested for simply typing what you already believed out loud, would you still click send?

In the middle of the night of October 11, 2015 Israeli police forces arrived to a house in a town not far from Nazareth. They went in the house and arrested poet and activist Dareen Tatour. Her crime? Posting a poem titled Resist My People, Resist Them. She was charged with inciting violence and, one month later, the court charged her with “support for a terrorist organization.” While Tatour might be one of the few people out to be sent to prison and then placed on house arrest over a poem, she wasn’t alone. In 2015 alone, over 400 Palestinian were arrested for social media posts.

Regardless of where you stand on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, one thing’s for sure: most of us have never worried about a political statement written on social media becoming something those in power can use to accuse us in a court of law.

dareen tatour poem arrest

In an interview with AlJazeera, Dareen said, "I never imagined that I could be arrested for something that I wrote. Back in the sixties, all the poets, like Mahmoud Darwish, were arrested –but in this century, I never expected this. I didn't know that democracy was not for everyone in Israel.”

After spending three months in different prisons in Israel, Dareen was then placed on house arrest far from her hometown. Her brother and sister-in-law left their jobs and school to be with her. One important detail was part of her confinement: no internet access. This poet has become considered dangerous for what she can say to the world.

Tatour believes that her words were misinterpreted. For many Israeli people, the word "martyr," when used to describe someone from Palestine, implies a suicide bomber. But to her culture, it speaks of those innocents who have been killed during the conflict. The poem was written and posted a few days after a Palestinian woman living in Nazareth was shot by Israeli soldiers at a bus station, only to have the charges dropped later on.

The definition of the word "martyr" according to the Oxford Dictionary is “A person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs.” It’s interesting how we have no problem using this term for other faiths. But, our own bias and prejudice, perpetuated by media and some world leaders, makes it so we don’t blink when someone generalizes that any member of the Arab world who is martyr should be deemed a terrorist.

Dareen is still under house arrest; she awaits three more trials this year that could send her to prison for eight years. The words on the poem are nowhere near as shocking as some protest songs you hear on Top 40 radio. Apparently the reaction was brought on by the pairing of her words with images of the Israeli forces attacking Palestinians.

We can look at this as we would a two-hundred- year-old letter sitting behind glass at a museum. We can feel bad for Dareen and the entire situation, while knowing that would never happen to us, right? However, considering the events that have been recently unfolding, this is a possible reality we might also be facing in the rest of the world. That’s why the complete disregard for freedom of speech in any part of the world is an affront to human rights.

We cannot shrug our shoulders and pretend like there’s nothing we can do. Because the more we allow these injustices to occur, the closer we come to reaching a world where only the powerful will have the right to speak.

dareen tatour poet

We currently are seeing how particular groups and nationalities are being targeted, how there’s even consideration for social media passwords to be part of the documentation required when applying for Visa to the United States.

We can still pretend that we’re safe, that what happened to Dareen is an incident considering the conflict in the region. But in truth, it’s a wake up call to all of us to start caring about what’s happening around us. Because one day, that hopefully never comes, we could also be jailed for a tweet or Facebook post.

This is the poem that got Dareen Tatour arrested, translated by poet Tariq al Haydar.

Resist, My People, Resist Them

Resist, my people, resist them.

In Jerusalem, I dressed my wounds and breathed my sorrows

And carried the soul in my palm

For an Arab Palestine.

I will not succumb to the “peaceful solution,”

Never lower my flags

Until I evict them from my land.

I cast them aside for a coming time.

Resist, my people, resist them.

Resist the settler’s robbery

And follow the caravan of martyrs.

Shred the disgraceful constitution

Which imposed degradation and humiliation

And deterred us from restoring justice.

They burned blameless children;

As for Hadil, they sniped her in public,

Killed her in broad daylight.

Resist, my people, resist them.

Resist the colonialist’s onslaught.

Pay no mind to his agents among us

Who chain us with the peaceful illusion.

Do not fear doubtful tongues;

The truth in your heart is stronger,

As long as you resist in a land

That has lived through raids and victory.

So Ali called from his grave:

Resist, my rebellious people.

Write me as prose on the agarwood;

My remains have you as a response.

Resist, my people, resist them.

Resist, my people, resist them.