The Jordanian Opposition Coalition's response to Ben Carson's visit differs from English to Arabic
A good example of how different audiences spawn different letters. (AFP/File)
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We've heard a lot about what Ben Carson's kind of offbeat visit to Jordan bore in terms of refugee issues, but Americans aren't the only ones responding to the Republican Presidential Candidate. This week a group called the Jordanian Opposition Coalition (JOC) released a letter addressed to Carson on its Facebook page.
But you might walk away with a different opinion depending on which language you speak, since the Arabic letter anf its English counterpart are pretty different. Here is the Arabic letter, with an English translation below.
الائتلاف الأردني للمعارضة مستمر في تعرية حقيقة النظام الهاشمي القبيحة لكافة أركان المؤسسة السياسية الامريكية....رسالة ا...Posted by The Jordanian Opposition Coalition الائتلاف الاردني للمعارضة on Monday, November 30, 2015
The Jordanian Opposition Collation delivered an official objection letter for the American presidency candidate Bin Carson after his observations about Jordan.
· You should have met with Jordanians to hear the truth, not only the regime men who faked what you saw and determined who you will speak to.
· In your first visit you described the Hashemite regime as being generous with the Syrian refugees and this is very far from the truth, the regime receives billions for refugees from the USA, KSA and UAE.
· The billions granted to the king does not appear or reflect on the refugees or even Jordanians, you should have asked where those billions disappear.
· The regime forbid Jordanians from Palestinian origins from education as well as the Bedouins so how do you expect that he will be generous with the Syrian refugees.
A few things stick out immediately. First off, it's not everyday you hear someone call the Jordanian government a "regime." But the language is actually not all that surprising when you consider its source.
The writer is JOC's London-based leader, Mudar Zahran, a vocal opposer to the Jordanian government who has appeared on Al Jazeera and elsewhere with messages similar to this one ever since.
Despite the strong language, some of the translated claims are factually far-fetched, such as Palestinians being denied education in the country.
Around 70 percent of Jordan's population have Palestinian roots, and while it is more difficult for them to access some things in the public sector— high positions in the police force or army, for example, are typically reserved for Jordanians—education is not among them. Bedouin tribes across Jordan, meanwhile, provide a backbone of support for the Hashemites, so they are not really "barred" from education either.
Zahran is a Palestinian-Jordanian himself, known best for his writings promoting further cooperation with Israel and a more secularist Jordanian government. He regularly writes for Israel-focused publications about Israeli-Palestinian relations and occassionally appears on conservative flagships in the US like Fox News' Hannity Show, where he spoke about Palestinian views on Hamas last year.
The oher weird thing about the letter is that its Arabic translation and an English version provided later don't actually match—in fact they're glaringly different. Here is a photo of the English post.
So the first three points are roughly the same, the only big difference being in language (regime vs. King etc.). But the fourth point diverges a lot—the Arabic version talks about Palestinian and Bedouin rights being squelched in Jordan. The English doesn't even mention Palestinians or Bedouins. Instead, it says "Israel has voraciously complained...about Jordan's king-controlled media, which spurs anti-Semitic thoughts."
The bizarre anti-Semitic claims go into more detail in the group's press release, found below the first post, saying Jordan's King Abdullah holds "anti-Semitic policies" and going on to ask if Carson himself is an anti-Semite.
By now we know well of the rift that exists between Arabic and English news, sometimes we try to fill that gap here. But perhaps what's most interesting about Zahran's lettter is just how much it exemplifies that space—between English and Arabic versions and the different audiences he assumes are reading, the language and the message itself gets completely transformed.
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