Qatari emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani at the Arab Summit this March
British museums have been warned by a leading human rights organisation to exercise “extreme caution” in their dealings with Qatar. The Arts Newspaper has reported that the warning was made
in response to Qatari poet, Muhammad al Ajami who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for reciting a poem voicing support to the Arab uprisings.
Aj-Ajami was arrested by Qatari authorities in November 2011, after a video of the poet reciting his poem surfaced on Youtube.
The case has raised serious concern with a number of human rights groups, as many UK museums including the esteemed Tate and Victoria and Albert museums have begun to strengthen ties with Qatar through sponsorship and events.
The British council is currently co-ordinating events with the Qatar Museums Authority, as part of a year long initiative to strengthen cultural bonds between the two countries.
Nicholas McGeehan of the Human Rights Watch warned against UK museums being used in a public relations exercise to gloss over the history of human rights violations in the Gulf state. “If you’re going to take money from a country that displays values that are antithetical to your own, you should exercise extreme caution,” he added.