In Tehran, Morsi’s criticism of Assad lost in translation

France 24 reports: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi made headlines Thursday when he criticised Iran’s longtime ally, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, at a summit in Tehran. Iranian interpreters at the talks quickly defused his remarks by swapping “Syria” for “Bahrain”.

Iranian interpreters at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran did some quick thinking when Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi decided to criticise Iran’s Syrian ally Bashar al-Assad – by simply swapping the word “Syria” for “Bahrain”.

In his much-awaited speech on August 30 the newly-elected Egyptian president said: “The revolution in Egypt is the cornerstone for the Arab Spring, which started days after Tunisia and then it was followed by Libya and Yemen and now the revolution in Syria against its oppressive regime.”

This prompted the Syrian delegation to walk out of the summit, although the millions of Iranians watching the event on TV or listening on the radio were told Morsi was actually referring to Bahrain.

And when Morsi called on the fractured Syrian opposition movement to unite, the interpreters slipped in another a convenient swap for Bahrain, a Gulf State where largely Shiite protests against the ruling Sunni monarchy have been supported by Iran.

What was lost in translation during the live speech had mileage beyond the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran.

Conservative Iranian website Farda quoted Morsi saying that he hoped Syria’s “popular regime” would survive and that the Syrian people was “free” and would “resist the will of foreign plotters”.

In fact, Morsi had told the summit that “our solidarity with the struggle of Syrians against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is an ethical duty, and a political and strategic necessity.”

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