US Muslim Groups Protest False Translations of CBS Report

August 24, 2001

Source: The Boston Globe

On August 24, 2001 The Boston Globe reported that "US Muslim leaders are expressing outrage over an offensive remark which they say was falsely attributed to a Palestinian in a documentary that aired Sunday on CBS's '60 Minutes.' The documentary...examined the militant Islamic organization Hamas, which has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings...In the documentary, a man...was filmed speaking in Arabic...with a simultaneous translation dubbed over his remarks...The translator quoted [him] as 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'...A spokesman for...the Muslim Public Affairs Council said that native Arabic speakers listened carefully to the tape and could find nothing even remotely resembling that translation. Instead, they reportedly found that [the man interviewed] said: 'As long as I love the land [Palestine] and as long as it is under occupation, I have no hesitation in doing what I'm doing'...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 the original statement. "He said Islam's teachings have nothing to do with myths about virgins and martyrdom....Muslim leaders charge that the report presented false stereotypes of Muslims and defamed their religion... 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...Officials at '60 minutes' said they were investigating the discrepancy."