Sheik Hilaly has been treading on thin ice all these years. He says he keeps getting misunderstood, misconstrued and misquoted. But never mistranslated.
But as Monica Attard found out recently, it seems the Sheik has also been Tradding on thin ice.
Sheik Hilaly’s erstwhile translator, interpreter and adviser, interpreter, Keysar Trad, hasn’t exactly been … er … shall we say? … comprehensive with Sheik Hilaly’s words.
At one stage of the interview, Attard said to Keysar: “No, no. Can you give me a literal translation Keysar because he started out saying, ‘of course'”. She then tells listeners: “At this point in the interview we became uncomfortable with the translation being provided by Keysar Trad and so we had it independently translated.”
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It turned out that Trad was not translating bits of Hilaly’s interview where he made remarks suggesting the victims of the vicious Sydney gang rapes were also responsible for the actions of the convicted rapists.
Some years back, Trad confirmed to me in an email that he did not have any training or qualifications in translation and interpreting. He is not a NAATI accredited interpreter. If Hilaly were to give evidence in court, Trad would not be allowed to act as translator.
Yet for all these years, Trad has been acting as the Sheik’s interpreter. Who knows how many more of the Sheik’s interviews have been sugar-coated and edited translations provided by Trad.
I wrote in the Daily Telegraph on 30 June 2005:
I am not sure about his Arabic skills, but his English was atrocious. So who is Mr Trad? Who appointed him as spokesman? We are told that he is the Sheik’s interpreter. But does Mr Trad have interpreting and translating qualifications and accreditation? It seems not. What experience does Mr Trad have in advising peak religious figures? None.
Sheik Hilaly would do well to heed the words of the visiting Mufti of Bosnia Herzegovina, Dr Mustafa Ceric. At the final public appearance of his Australian tour, Ceric advised imams as follows:
Be careful what you say as a Muslim religious leader. If you slip, I can deny and disagree with you publicly, but who will believe me? It’s natural for people to stereotype.
And Dr Ceric didn’t need a translator.