Saudi govt to probe wrong translation of pebbles’ after American preacher discovered error

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Abubakar Ahmadu Maishanu

The Ministry of Haj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia has opened an investigation into the wrong translation of “pebbles” which pilgrims use to throw at a symbolic Satan.

Some pebbles were translated as the “anthrax” and this wrong translation was clearly written on the bags containing them, Saudi Gazette reported on Sunday.

The pebbles are collected from Muzdalifa by a special contractor who gives them to the pilgrims to throw at the Jamarat. They were cleaned and purified before they are put into the bags.

The ministry said the contractor and the translator were under investigation since August 10, prior to handing them over to the concerned authorities to take disciplinary action against them.

Though, the Arabic version on the bags was correct. It said the English translation was made to mean an “Anthrax Gravel Bag”.

Officials said the mistake in the translation was discovered by a famous American preacher Yusuf Estes who was invited by the ministry to deliver a lecture at the 44th annual session of the Grand Haj Symposium.

The preacher filmed a video clip showing the bag which carried the wrong translation. He warned against the serious impact of the wrong translation which was an obvious Google translation.

“Google is not wrong. It provides a number of translations for the browsers to choose from,” the preacher said.

He also said the pilgrims who keep these bags with them may face trouble when they arrive at their countries’ airports in their journey back home.

Mr Estes lamented a situation where the translator got it because the Arabic was correct.

Pilgrims use the gravels to throw pebbles at the “big Satan” on the first day of Eid Al-Adha and then all the three replicas on the second and third day.

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