BURAK BEKDİL > Imagine: Turkey hosts the 2020 Olympic Games!

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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.


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Notice on comments

Nikos T.

8/25/2012 5:26:39 PM

Brilliant! The OLYMPIC spirit seeks to inspire today's youth to build a peaceful and better world. The "Imagine" song describes just the same spirit. Nothing to kill for and nothing to die for... Olympic games may have become an international consumer fare but the spirit lives. It's our obligation to keep it alive.

Sandra Jacoel

8/25/2012 11:27:46 AM

Firstly I find it appalling that part of John Lennon's song,"Imagine"was omitted by the translator. Is he,or does he think that Muslim Turks are so insecure in their own religion that they would be seduced by such evil? blasphemous? words! How sad. Dogan- If you've lived in Britain as long as you say you have then you should know one thing by now- although GreatBritain may no longer be"Great" in terms of Empire etc, they are "Great" purely by their ability to laugh at & be critical of themselves

Robert Ellis

8/25/2012 11:10:45 AM


Rosalind Polat

8/24/2012 7:26:44 PM

Well written again Mr Bekdil Foreigners will not think badly of Turkey because of your articles but because they can see with their own eyes the changes taking place in my lovely country and listen with their own ears.

american american

8/24/2012 6:50:40 PM

redtail, it is unfortunate that people will take something as 'anti-turkish', rather than what it is - anti-reactionary, divisive politicians who play populist without offering actual solutions. if all the foreigners commenting on these pages hated turkey so much, they (myself included) would not have married turks or moved from their family and friends to live here. this is a beautiful part of the world and it is slowly being made ugly. thank you for being balanced!

Hasan Kutlay

8/24/2012 6:00:28 PM

If religion & religious ppl search for political power, and in the worst case suppress our non religious lifestyles, then its not only our natural right but also our duty to criticize religion as the core of their political practice, political ideology and tool for acquiring power. If we are not permitted, then religion equals totalitarianism.

Rimon Tree

8/24/2012 5:49:00 PM

@ Red Tail Yur point 3) I was pointing out in my comment and that he praised Hitlers ovens too, as he has very often very radical opinions, but this paper decided not to bring my answer to him, therefore I thank you for pointing it out!

Tamer Aslantas

8/24/2012 4:59:49 PM

@Diren Sesel Is that all you can think of? What did London had to offer us last games? I already forgot!

Red Tail

8/24/2012 4:58:19 PM

American. But I begin to believe that it is not true that Dogan has live in the UK. 1) He constantly complains about the evil West and praises Turkey - Why on earth would anyone spend his whole life in a place he hates so much instead of a place he loves 2) His comments do not even the slightest reflect that he understans how westeners think, like for example basic freedom of speech. 3) Two days ago he wrote for example that he aggrees with Iran that Israel should be erased from the planet.

Tamer Aslantas

8/24/2012 4:50:36 PM

Very funny article BB. If you don't have knowledge about a religion you just make fun of it. What was your 1st name again, Borat? @ Rimon Tree. You'd rather have a society where everybody fools around with each other and spread diseases. Where people just steal for the fun of it and rob you for his excitement. I don't. If sharia law was implemented in a country like Britain it would work because Britain has stability. In Iraq people execute others on their own which is anti-Islamic anyway.
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