The Islamic Culture As A Bias Point Of View


MADRID – Arabic translators, whose mother tongue is Spanish, are not plentiful at present. For this reason, I decided to make contact with one for granting me an interview about his work and the current problems related with the Middle East.

Rafael Mayor is a sworn translator, an interpreter and an expert in the Islamic culture. In addition, he translates texts and books about literary criticism and history. He decided to study sworn translation due to the fact that he previously had studied a degree in Law (which he has never finished), so he had knowledge about these affairs. He has been working as sworn translator since 2007 and he works with the Spanish Police at present.

Many years ago, when he started studying translation, he never thought he would become an Arabic translator, but his Arabic professor Milagros Nuin, who works in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs now, made him being interested in this language. He admitted that “learn Arabic is difficult and it takes a long time, but it is amazing”.  However, the main problem he has to face daily is the lack of specialized dictionaries, which would make his labour easier. When I asked him about his colleagues he points out that “anyone who knows Arabic and studies in Spain, is an Arabic translator, thus, it affects the quality of work done”. However, there are few of them who have the appropriate studies in order to be a sworn translator.

Regarding to his facet as islamologist, Rafael emphasised the importance of being an expert of Islam when you are a translator because “there are a lot of aspects of Arabian world that you cannot understand if you do not have knowledge about Islam due to the fact that the Islamic and Arabian world is constantly doing references to the Coran”. In his opinion, the Arabian world is misunderstood without the pertinent knowledge about the past and the present of this ancient culture.

This drove me to ask him about the causes of the radicalization of young men. “There are a lot of reasons”, he answered. Referring us to France, he argued that: “In France, for example, the problem is that these young men feel uprooted because they are not considered by the State as French persons, but as Moroccan persons, even they do not know how to speak Arabic”.

This identity problem added to a broken home is the equation whose result is to join Daesh and fight for a cause that they did not support before, but it makes them feel part of a community. For him, they are “radical young people who find a justification for doing something in a part of Islam”.

Moreover, for him, the “Islamic radicalism is a phenomenon which belongs to the Western world”. He supported his statement by saying that “Middle East is not exporting terrorists, otherwise it is importing them from Europe”.

Nevertheless, he thinks that the last terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels have not woken up the dormant racism in Europe. The responsibility of this belongs to “the French government, which adopted wrong solutions”. He alluded to the protocol taken in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo attack, whose purpose was to identify the Islamic radicalism at schools. “The protocol stated that if a child stops listening to music, it was a sign of radicalism and it is not true, it depends on other factors”, he said as an example. “To stop listening to music is a normal behaviour on Muslims, so the protocol categorized all Muslims as terrorists”.

If we talk about looking for a solution, he finds out that the main point is starting in the education field. He determined that “if these jihadist terrorists were taught about what is really Islam, they probably would have not committed those atrocities”. In the Western countries, the problem is the lack of institutions where people can study Islamic religion so “people turn to their families (who often do not have enough information), to mosques (which frequently are managed by not seasoned professionals) and to Internet (which has only information about Wahhabism)”.

Regarding to Spain, he told me that “in 1992, the government signed an agreement that allowed to teach Islam at school, but it has never been introduced.” The agreement that he mentioned is the “Acuerdo de Cooperación del Estado con la Comisión Islámica de España” included in the Law 26/1992.

Finally, to conclude, I asked him about a short-term resolution to the conflicts in the Middle East and Rafael answered that “these political conflicts will resolve within time period of five years”. I insisted on the end of the jihadist organization but “Daesh is not the problem, is only a sign”, he stated. “Daesh will be eradicated but the phenomenon will be repeated as far as they deal with the underlying problem”.

Rafael Mayor, interviewed by Macarena Dueñas.

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