Day: September 17, 2006

(Mis-)translating the Pope

One difficulty with interpreting the Pope’s statements about his Regensburg lecture in recent days has been the fact that the Pontiff has spoken in languages other than English, including German and Italian. His statements in these tongues have then been translated into English for the world’s media – not always successfully. Sometimes it’s even possible to reflect that the mistranslations are deliberate.

One example has occurred today, with the Pope’s use of the Italian word rammaricato, which means “saddened”, or “afflicted with sadness” (thie word denotes a mixture of disappointment and regret) . In his sermon this morning, the Pope said:

Sono vivamente rammaricato per le reazioni suscitate da un breve passo del mio discorso all’Universita di Ratisbona, ritenuto offensivo per la sensibilita dei credenti musulmani.

Which translates as: “I am actively saddened by the reactions provoked by a brief passage in my lecture at the University of Regensburg, which has been deemed offensive by the sensibility of Moslem believers.”

Many agencies, including Reuters, are translating vivamente rammaricato as “deeply sorry” – thus suggesting an apology, which is not in fact in the Pope’s words.

Yesterday, Benedict’s use of the German word best├╝rzt was causing similar problems – many agencies used the word “upset” to translate this, when it would have been better to use “shocked” or “taken aback” as the English equivalent.

Bedauern, another German verb used by the Pope, was coming across as “to be sorry”, when its real meaning is actually “to regret”.

And so on. The shades of meaning may seem trivial, but they do affect the way in which the recent crisis has developed in the media.


In Der Spiegel, Claus Christian Malzahn considers the threats made to Pope Benedict by Islamist groups in the context of earlier threats to public figures who have dared to criticize Islam: the satirical comedian Rudi Carrell, the writer Salman Rushdie, the feminist Ayan Hirsi Ali, the newspaper editor Flemming Rose. Malzahn comments (my tr.):

But the attacks on the Pope in Rome are particularly grotesque. The sharp criticism of Benedikt XVI’s lecture in Regensburg, criticism often also combined with the threat of violence, is not only an attack on the head of the Catholic Church. The malicious twistings of his words and the absurd imputations of the resprentatives of Islam are also a frontal attack on free religious-philosophical discourse. The fact that an apparently ever-increasing number of people in the Islamic world can be tempted to follow this protest shows how influential Islamic groups have now become there. The political calculation is clear: any discussion between Christianity and Islam can only exist within the rules that have been specified by political Islamism.

Shots Fired at Oslo Synagogue

Oslo police are searching for an armed, black-clad attacker who opened fire on the synagogue at Bergstien 13, St. Hanshaugen, at around 2.30 am today. The area has been cordoned off, and security at the Israeli embassy on Parkveien has also been reinforced, Aftenposten reports.

The shots were probably from an automatic weapon, and at least 11 bullets were fired. The bullet holes in the synagogue wall are clearly visible.

Reuters has some background to the incident:

Norway’s Jewish community had asked its members not to speak Hebrew on the streets of Oslo after an assault on a man wearing a yarmulke in July. In August a man defecated on the steps of the Oslo synagogue and smashed two windows there.

Karnit Goldwasser Talks to Fox News

Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit are still in captivity – Goldwasser and Regev are held by Hizballah, and Shalit by a Palestinian group. There is no sign of their being released at any foreseeable date in the future.

In this YouTube video, Ehud Goldwasser’s wife Karnit talks to Fox News’s Hannity & Colmes about her husband’s abduction.

The Logic of Self-Defeat

A commenter on FAZ’s news site puts the matter in succinct terms (my tr.):

The reactions of the Islamic world are turning against the passage quoted by the Pope to the effect that Mohammed created a religion of violence. And how does the Islamic world do this? Not by trying to disprove the quotation through argument, but by threatening violence and terror. And thereby logically confirming the the truth of the quotation.

Moslems Attack Gaza Churches

Via Arutz Sheva:

At least five churches in the Palestinian Authority have been targeted in a series of attacks since Friday. One Islamic terrorist group threatened to blow up all the churches in Gaza.

The attacks and threats represent the response of Islamic fundamentalists in the PA to statements made last Tuesday, at Regensburg University in Germany, by the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI. By reference to a reported discussion from the 14th century between a Christian Byzantine Emperor and a Persian Islamic scholar, the pontiff implied denigration of the Islamic notion of Jihad for the sake of imposing Muslim rule.