Something “absolutely normal” happened at the closing ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympic Games, although, strangely, there are still some people who think that that normalcy was not, in fact, normalcy. Once again, I was appalled by the fact that some colleagues and friends were appalled.
The normalcy was how a Turkish presenter for the state broadcaster TRT translated (well, rather avoided to translate parts of) a song that was part of the ceremonies. “Did you notice?!” A friend watching the ceremonies screamed. Yes, we had all noticed, but what was so strange?
The Turkish presenter had merely omitted part of John Lennon’s lyrics that called for “no religion” during the broadcasting of the 30th Olympic Games’ closing ceremonies. The iconic song “Imagine” was included in the ceremonies and was translated into Turkish by the TRT presenter as it played in the background. The lyrics of the song which called for people to imagine a world with no countries and no reason to kill or die for were correctly translated by the presenter, but the TRT man preferred just to skip the part where Lennon sang for “no religion.”
It’s bizarre; some people still think that was strange in EU candidate Turkey – and in the year 2012. By the time Turkey – hopefully – wins the bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, such negligence in translation will look too unimportant, too negligible and too innocent.
We are still a good eight years away from 2020, but I feel obliged to help any future TRT presenter who might be tasked with translating the song “Imagine” in 2020. Who knows, the TRT may wish to include the song in Istanbul’s opening or closing ceremonies to maintain a global posture pillared on interfaith dialogue, compromise, tolerance and democratic culture.
While “Imagine” plays in the background and a foreign audience applauds Turkey’s religious liberalism while a willing chorus of Western pundits praises Turkey’s genuine pluralism, the presenter may use, on a gratis basis, my translation of the song, targeting a purely Turkish audience:
Imagine (by John Lennon)
Imagine there is heaven
Where good Muslims enjoy 72 heavenly virgins everyday and wine flows through rivers
It’s easy if you try
Beware of the hell below us where drunks, infidels and Jews will taste the most punishing flames
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for jihad
Imagine there’s only one country
boasting the Crescent and Star
It isn’t hard to do
To kill the infidel or die for jihad
And no religion too
other than Islam
Imagine all the people living life in peace after having converted to Islam
You, you may say I am a jihadist
But I am not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
After this translation the presenter may lecture the Turkish audience about great musicians nonetheless like Lennon. To impress, I suggest that the presenter should mention some of the world’s most renowned musicians who were not born Muslim but converted to Islam at some point in their live; like Hector Berlioz, Georges Bizet, Marilyn Manson, Charlie Parker, Sergei Prokofiev, Maurice Ravel, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Dmitri Shostakovich, Giuseppe Verdi and Frank Zappa.