On July 24th, the Guardian published an article based on an exclusive by The Times that revealed antisemitic Facebook posts by a trustee of Britain’s largest Muslim charity, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). Though the Guardian piece, by their Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes, was largely unproblematic, the wording in the second paragraph caught our eye:
In Facebook posts published in 2014 and 2015, the trustee, Heshmat Khalifa, called Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a “pimp son of the Jews” and labelled Israeli authorities as “grandchildren of monkeys and pigs”.
The Guardian claim that the Arabic Facebook post by Khalifa – who resigned from IRW after The Times’ revelations – merely referred to “Israeli authorities” as “grandchildren of monkeys and pigs” differs from the translation by The Times, and nearly every media outlet which covered the story. These outlets reported that the IRW trustee labelled “Jews” as “grandchildren of monkeys and pigs”, not merely “Israeli authorities”.
The only outlet other than the Guardian to translate it as “Israeli authorities” that we found was 5 Pillars – the Islamist news site whose editors have repeatedly legitimised extremism and engaged in antisemitism.
So, we obtained a screen shot of the original Facebook post by Khalifa to check for ourselves.
A colleague at CAMERA Arabic provided us with the following translation:
“for the first time in modern history, prayer in the al-Aqsa mosque banned, as the descendants of monkeys and pigs close it with the blessing of the pimp in Egypt”.
“Descendants of monkeys and pigs” is a phrase based on a Quranic tradition widely understood as a derogatory way to refer to Jews. As Palestinian Media Watch has explained, there are three instances where the Quran tells of Allah turning Jews into apes and/or pigs.
Sura 2:65 “And you had already known about those who transgressed among you concerning the sabbath, and We said to them, ‘Be apes, despised.’”
Sura 7:166 “So when they were insolent about that which they had been forbidden, We said to them, ‘Be apes, despised.’”
Sura 5:60 “Say, ‘Shall I inform you of [what is] worse than that as penalty from Allah? [It is that of] those (i.e., the Jews) whom Allah has cursed and with whom He became angry and made of them apes and pigs and slaves of Taghut. Those are worse in position and further astray from the sound way.’”
Khalifa wasn’t expressing hate towards Israelis due to their nationality, but due to their religion. The Guardian’s misleading translation softens Khalifa’s words, rendering them far less offensive.
We’ve contacted editors asking for a correction.