Fictional Headlines

This example of propaganda could easily be excused as a simple mistranslation – and a simple mistranslation it may be. However, I feel that it’s still important to document this case as it continues a worrying trend.

It’s the 22nd of March 2013 and a Guardian headline reads…

“Syria’s president says his forces will ‘eliminate’ infidels”

Quite a statement from the embattled leader. It’s the type of statement that we would usually associate with religious extremists. Prehaps the same types of extremists that have flocked to Syria in order to fight the Assad regime.

However, looking at the transcript of the Assad speech that the Guardian quotes from – several commentators have highlighted that Assad didn’t actually utter those words.

The Guardian prints the following:

“We will adhere to your thought as we are fighting to eliminate their obscurantist and takfiri [infidel] thinking until we purge our country of them.”

As many Guardian readers have pointed out:

“A Takfiri (from Arabic: تكفيري‎ takfīrī) is a Muslim who accuses another Muslim ofapostasy.[1] The accusation itself is called takfir, derived from the word kafir (infidel) and is described as when “…one who is, or claims to be, a Muslim is declared impure.” ~ Wikipedia

Here are some comments from Guardian readers regarding this issue:

I wonder how long it will take the Guardian to change their sub-heading after a number of commentators have shown that “takfiri” does not mean “infidel”.
Clearly this mistranslation is a great propoganda feat, the secular Assad is now declaring to eliminate all non-believers!

Wissam Shaheen
‘takfiri’ is not translated into’infidel’…
a ‘takfiri’ is a guy who consider all others are ‘infidel’..
We expect from The guardian to be very careful in translations.. what a shame!!!

Three people have already exposed your blatant mis-translation of Bashar Assad’s comments. Trying to make him look like the one who is waging holy wars against ‘infidels’ is a new low for you Guardian when your Al-Queda ‘rebels’ are terrorising an the country, chopping peoples heads off all in the name of Allah!
Change the headline Guardian – you are fooling no-one!

*** UPDATE 22.03.13 ***

The headline in question has now been removed from their webpage. Below is a screen grab of the original text.

gwp 22.03.13