Character assassination

An interesting sidelight on the "trial" last week of Mauritanian journalist Hanefi Ould Dehah (or Dahah). The Moor Next Door blogreports that an Arabic translation of a Wall Street Journal articlecalling for his release was circulated in the courtroom and in the streets outside. But it wasn't exactly the Wall Street Journal article: bits had been changed to blacken Ould Dahah's character.

The WSJ article said he had received an ultra-conservative religious education but "broke with the Islamists as an 18-year-old". The translation said he had "left Islam" at 18 – meaning that he is now an apostate.

The Moor Next Door continues: "The so-called 'translation' of the WSJ piece attributes statements to Ould Dahah that simply do not appear in the original. These do not come down to semantic problems, but glaring, malicious word choices based on a political agenda ..."

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 8 February 2010.