While checking the Arabic and English transcripts of the statements that Tony Blair made during his visit to Egypt today I noticed discrepancies between the two. It turns out the English statement reported in the media was translated from the Arabic which was translated from the original English, and some of the meaning was lost in translation. Below is what he actually said.
"This is what I say to my colleagues in the west. The fact is, the Muslim Brotherhood tried to hijack the country through democratic elections when it is clearly not ready for democracy. The army have intervened, at the whim of its leaders, but in order to take the country to the next stage of its development, which should be autocratic, we should be supporting the new government in doing that.
We in the West have invested for decades in the Egyptian military for it to act as an agent of stability and we should not be ashamed of admitting that. We cannot at this crucial moment withdraw our support from this glorious institution that remains the only bastion of our values amidst a sea of barbarians and reactionary forces.
The rights to elect their leaders should not be given prematurely to people who are not capable of doing that. In these circumstances, it is the responsibility of the enlightened minority to take it upon itself to prevent this perversion and that is a true manifestation of the spirit of democracy.
Let us have the courage to endorse the brave decision to butcher thousands of civilians including women and children because this is primarily in the interest of stability. Arabs and Muslims are backwards and it would be a crime to force them to adapt to a democratic way of life that is alien to their ways. When the army spills bloods it does it with full realisation that this is to guarantee the future of the country and prevent ill-conceived experiments like democratic elections.
Let us have the courage to endorse the wide campaign of arrests of civilians and intimidation of activists from across the political spectrum because it will prevent further deterioration and the spread of misleading ideas. Let us have the courage to prevent revolutionaries from harming themselves and their societies by their reckless behaviour. This is the true spirit of the Egyptian revolution.
Let us have the courage to endorse the arrest and arbitrary detention of hundreds of journalists because they are acting irresponsibly and most of them have turned out to be secret agents of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the responsible and mature thing to do at a time of national crisis.
Above all, let us have the courage to support this war on terror by any means necessary. Terrorism is pernicious and lurking at every corner and the Egyptian state must confront this existential danger. We should not be afraid of the collateral damage and become weak at the sight of murdered civilians. We must remember that this is for a noble cause and we must endorse all forms of extra-judicial actions in the pursuit of this aim.
Right here in Egypt I think it is fundamental that the new government succeeds, that we give it support in bringing in this new era for the people of Egypt. And, you know, we can debate the past and it's probably not very fruitful to do so, but right now I think it's important the whole of the international community gets behind the leadership here and helps.
Principles? I don’t know what that word means.”