Beware of deception

Sabria s. Jahwar

A translated text of a speech purportedly made by US President Barack Obama is making the rounds on social media in Saudi Arabia that has the potential to widen the growing gap between the West and Muslims.
The other day a well-educated colleague of mine sent me without comment a text translated from English to Arabic on WhatsApp. The text was identified as President Obama’s “last White House speech” made on March 23 that outlined his accomplishments during his eight years in office and his attitudes toward Muslims nations.
I will say from the onset that I found no evidence of such a speech in the western media or on the White House website. I believe it to be a hoax. But the implications can’t be underestimated that it may influence young, impressionable and naive Muslims to embrace extremism.
According to the text making the rounds in Saudi Arabia, Obama outlined his accomplishments, including reducing US unemployment from eight to less than five percent, and bringing US troops home from Iraq. The text states that Americans had “killed 5,000 Muslim terrorists and the last of them 150 (from) Al-Shabab.”
It describes the killings as part of the American “doctrine when it comes to protecting our American military and manufacturing powers and to instill our culture of power that our society believes in.”
“Were there civilian victims?” the text purportedly quoting Obama continues. “Yes, and thousands, but we had to make sure that we get rid of future terrorists.” The text also states that the Obama administration takes credit for “killing and burying the Arab Spring” because of the threat to Israel, and boasted of “killing democracy in Egypt in its infancy.”
Further, according to the text, the US “allowed our Shiite allies to get to Syria and cover it with blood … We have no interest in the victory of an uprising that threatens the Jewish people.”
Regardless of my feelings toward Barack Obama and his foreign policy — certainly his recent remarks in The Atlantic magazine interview demonstrated a lapse in diplomacy — I don’t for a moment believe that the president would use such language or express such sentiments. These are not words Obama would say and there has been no indication during his time in office that he spoke in this manner.
This text also was circulated among many university professors I know who specialize in Arabic and English linguistics, the nursing profession, computer science and psychology. In their remarks posted on WhatsApp they all disputed the contents of the “speech.”
Academics and educated population can usually smell a rat when phony information is presented as fact and the “Obama speech” is no exception. But for the uninitiated, uneducated and troubled individuals who are unable to grasp the concept of deception, or frankly, want to believe in the worst in people and in governments, this text will serve as a recruiting tool for terrorists.
One of two things happened here: 1) Someone in Washington concocted this “speech” to sow ill- feelings among Muslims toward the United States, or 2) Someone in the Middle East manufactured the speech for the same purposes. Either way the result is an effort to use the text as a recruiting tool to attract people to the cause of Daesh and Al-Qaeda, which will lead to more deaths.
If the text is accepted by truth, then it comes at the worst time because we Muslims worldwide are in a defensive position to explain ourselves. By using such words to mislead young Muslims and send them into the arms of terrorists, we only widen the gap between the western world and the Ummah.
Whoever is behind this, whether it’s a genuine speech that has been leaked or one that has been made up, to me they are the same. The motive for distributing it in the Arab world is to create tension and create an atmosphere of hatred.
The Middle East is chock-full of conspiracy theorists and phony news reports are part of a movement to enrage marginalized Muslims or seek the support for a cause. In this case, though, whoever is behind this speech went to great lengths to make it sound believable and genuine. If anything, it shows us that the extremists are becoming more sophisticated in spreading propaganda.

—Courtesy: Arab News

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