Israeli Court Jails Arab Poet Over Facebook Poem

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On Tuesday, an Israeli court sentenced Arab poet, Dareen Tatour, to five months in prison. The Nazareth District Court sentenced Dareen after convicting her of “inciting violence” over a poem she posted on social media. The 36-year-old had posted a video of herself reading out her poem titled, “Resist, My People, Resist”.

Dareen belongs to Israel’s Arab minority. The minority group comprises descendants of the Palestinians who continued to stay on their land after the 1948 Arab-Jewish war. Many fled or were driven away from their houses. The war led to the creation of the state of Israel.

Prosecutors accused the poet of supporting terrorist organizations. Prosecutors also argued that her poem incited violence. Tatour had also shared and commented on a post by Islamic Jihad declaring its commitment to a new intifada, or “uprising”. According to the charges, she supported “terrorism”.

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She shared the video clip on Facebook in October 2015, reading her poem. She was also arrested a few days later.

Prosecutors alleged that her post was a call for violence.  However, she has denied all these allegations. Tatour said her poem was misunderstood by the Israeli authorities. She said there was no call for violence in the poem, rather it calls for struggle. The Israeli authorities had cast that struggle as violence

According to the judge “the aforementioned violent video does not include images of casualties and victims or legal protests. The video reflects only violent resistance/uprising throughout.”

The judge added, “The freedom of expression is not absolute.”

The judge went on to write. “In a case such as this—in which it is clear there is a call for an act of terrorism posted among thousands of members of the defendants’ Facebook group and among an unlimited audience on YouTube, along with a video that bolsters the call for violence that comes from the text—the poem cannot receive the protection of the court merely because the words of incitement were written as a poem.”

Since the year 2014, indictments for online incitement have tripled in Israel. The campaign against incitement has raised questions about security and free speech.

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Deepali Is An Intern With SheThePeople.TV