Assaults on writers and journalists in the Arab world are not uncommon, but the case of the Yemeni poet who just had his tongue cut out appears to be one of the most horrifying crimes against those who dare to express their views in public.

The poet, Walid al-Ramishi, was kidnapped by armed gangsters in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. The kidnappers released him after they had cut out his tongue.

Al-Ramishi is now being treated in a Jordanian hospital, where doctors say he would not be able to talk again.

His alleged crime: he had written a poem in praise of embattled Yemeni dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh.

Abdel Salam al-Qabsi, a prominent Yemeni poet, condemned the gruesome assault, noting that it was the latest in a string of attacks on writers and intellectuals in his country.

In the past few weeks, a number of writers and intellectual figures were targeted by unknown assailants in broad daylight in Yemen.

Some say the attackers belonged to the government, while others have pointed a blaming finger at opposition groups.

The most recent victims included three women novelists: Bushra al-Maqtari, Huda al-Attas and Arwa Othman. The three women were beaten during anti-government protests in the Yemeni capital.

The assault on al-Ramishi, whose tongue was cut out, has been almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media and human rights organizations in the West.

Even the media in the Arab world, which is controlled by repressive Arab regimes, has ignored the tragedy of the Yemeni poet.

Similarly, the international media is looking the other way as crimes are being committed almost every day against Christians and churches in Egypt, Syria and Iraq.

The silence over such grisly assaults only serves the interests of the perpetrators and encourages them to carry out more crimes in the future.

How many media outlets in North America and Europe have reported about the case of Egyptian Coptic teacher Ayman Metri, who has accused Muslim fundamentalists of cutting off his ear and burning his house?

Or the case of the Palestinian photographer who had both of his arms broken by Fatah thugs in the West Bank because they did not like his pictures and political views?

Those who did not like al-Ramishi's controversial poem could simply have published one of their own, criticizing him or even mocking at him for heaping praise at a dictator.

But that is often not the case in most Arab countries, where violence and terror are regarded as a legitimate weapon to silence critics and or anyone who dares to express a different opinion.

Related Topics:  Khaled Abu Toameh receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list

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