|WASHINGTON - American Muslim leaders are outraged over an alleged fabricated quote attributed to a Palestinian who recruits suicide bombers in a documentary that aired Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes."
The documentary by reporter Bob Simon examined the militant Islamic organization Hamas, which has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings against Israel. Muslim leaders charge that the report presented false stereotypes of Muslims and defamed their religion.
In the documentary, a man identified as Mohammed Abu Wardeh was filmed speaking in Arabic to Simon, with a simultaneous translation dubbed over his remarks.
At one point, the translator quotes Abu Wardeh saying, " [God] would compensate the martyr for sacrificing his life for his land. If you become a martyr, God will give you 70 virgins, 70 wives and everlasting happiness."
According to Mehdi Brey, a spokesman for the Washington office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, native Arabic speakers listened carefully to the tape and could find nothing even remotely resembling that translation. Instead, they say, Abu Wardeh said, "As long as I love the land (of Palestine) and as long as it is under occupation, I have no hesitation in doing what I am doing."
Brey said his organization has asked the show to explain how completely different words were attributed to the person interviewed, but CBS has not responded.
Officials at "60 Minutes" could not explain to Knight Ridder how the discrepancies in the translation occurred, but said they were investigating.
Salaam Al-Mariaty, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, said the issue is important to the estimated 7 million American Muslims because they fear it is an attempt to defame their religion.
"A lot of these times when they start talking about Hamas or any Muslim group, we have noted a pattern of mistranslations, and we fear there is a political agenda to spread hysteria about Islam and Muslims in America."
Dr. Maher Hathout, a Muslim scholar with the Islamic Center of Southern California, said he first discovered the error and was alarmed at how different the translation was from Abu Wardeh's statements.
"The worst-case scenario is that there is a deliberate spinning of the news. It is very fashionable now to present Muslims as particularly susceptible to being crazy or blowing themselves up." He said Islam's teachings have nothing to do with myths about virgins and martyrdom.
"There is nothing in the Koran or in Islamic teachings about 70 virgins or sex in paradise. This is ridiculous, and any true Muslim knows that," said Hathout.
The leaders ask that CBS air a correction and provide time for Muslim scholars on the show to explain Islam's teachings about violence and martyrdom.
Muslim Translators Say ’60 Minutes’
Fabricated Bomber’s Quotes
By Joyce M. Davis
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Posted on the Independent Newswire on 30 March 2002
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