A little over two months ago, a minor incident in the cafeteria with a few students set in motion a chain of events.
I was working at Qatar Academy in Doha, Qatar, at the time. Following that incident, not only did I lose my job, I was jailed for 12 days. I would have been incarcerated for much longer had friends, former students and others around the world not launched a massive international campaign to secure my freedom.
The series of posts headed “Qatar…From Afar” will detail different aspects of the events.
To be sure, there is a lot to be said about the events, but, to put the record straight to begin with, I thought I would start with the timeline. (Pretty much all media reports got this wrong.)
|Monday, April 15||Sit-down conversation with the students in the cafeteria during lunch break.|
|Tuesday, April 16||The incident takes place in the cafeteria during lunch break.|
|Wednesday, April 17||First meeting with the administrators (principal and vice-principal) and informed that parents had filed complaints, directly with the director, alleging that I had insulted Islam.Asked to file my version of the incident.|
|Thursday, April 18||Filed my version of the incident, followed by yet another meeting with the administrators in the morning.At the end of the meeting asked to go home until further notice.|
|Sunday, April 21||Asked to come in to school at 1:30 pm for the first meeting with the director (in the presence of the principal).Informed of the school’s decision to recommend the board for dismissal.Informed of loss of five-month equivalent of salary.|
|Thursday, April 25||Second meeting with director and another administrator.Informed of the board’s decision for dismissal.In consultation with the Director and the administrator, preparation for departure begun and the flight date set for Friday, May 3.|
|Tuesday, April 30||Informed exit visa and the necessary paperwork for departure, supposed to have been ready by 1 pm, was not ready.|
|Wednesday, May 1||Around 9:30 am, call receivedfromAlRayyan police station “Captain.”Approximately hour-long interrogation at the police station ends at 12:20.Left alone in the interrogation room (with electronic locks) until 3:00 pm and then, after surrendering everything in my possession, including my belt, jailed for allegedly insulting Islam.|
|Thursday, May 2||Taken down to Public Prosecution’s office in hand cuffs.|
|Sunday, May 5||Second trip to the Public Prosecution’s office, again in hand cuffs.Court date set for Thursday, May 9.Informed for the first time could spend 5 years in prison.|
|Thursday, May 9||First court appearance.Informed of Doha News coverage of the incident.Given 2 weeks before the next court appearance.|
|Sunday, May 12||Released from prison in the afternoon.|
|Monday, May 13||Picked up “release papers,” then (exchanged it for) exit visa and passport in the morning.Departed for Kathmandu, Nepal in the afternoon.|