Saturday, 18 February 2012

Faisal al-Qassem- 'Letter from an Arab Leader' with translation

Veteran reporter and television host Faisal al-Qassem ((فايصل القاسم is renowned for his live debate show The Opposite Direction ((الاتجاه المعاكس on Al Jazeera, where he plays host, it seems, to two guests with the most diametrically opposed view points on current affairs. Fights break out on occasions.

But I like to watch it for Faisal al-Qassem’s wit and genius; his way with words is quite like that of Stephan Fry’s if we 
were to compare.

In December 2009 al-Qassem delivered his introduction to an episode entitled, ‘Peoples and Rulers in the Arab World’, and quoted a stunning polemic written by the Moroccan writer Mounir Bahi    منير باهي a year before called ‘A Letter from an Arab Ruler to his People’.

Here is the clip with my translation below it.

English translation-

'Let us hear what a letter from an Arab leader to his people might sound like...

“Allow me, good people, for you consider me backward and cowardly; are you not also cowards? For just as you are dumbfounded by this official, chronic Arab backwardness, I myself am struck with awe by the entrenched cowardice in you, the people.

You saw me yield in subservience to America, for it is my maker; but you the people, why do you stand quivering before my presence day after day, bowing low like cowards?

What is it that makes you lie prostrate in my presence, to proclaim in adulation the name of My Excellency day and night?

What was it that made you lose your ability to object so that I do not even speak of an opposition?
You did not choose me as your leader, neither could you do so. I do not consult you in decisions that affect your daily lives, and you do not have the courage to demand that I do.

What prevents you from revolting against me? I humiliated you for decades, I held you in contempt for years, and you, being you, did not change. You continue to sing my praises and to call me by the names of God.

My family and I seized your best land and the nation’s fortunes, and we lived off it in wealth to excess. But you are forever impoverished, famished, sick and backward.

You could not say ‘Enough!’ You saw me tread on your values, your identity, and your dignity, yet you did not whisper to my face. Could you even scream in pain as I push the knife deeper and deeper into your heart? I dare you! You cannot. Cowards”'.

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