Barack Obama, Speaking Arabic, Media Insanity, Etc.

by Jim Newell

Let’s get it out of the way: Barack Obama said a word in Arabic to the Saudi King! How many of these Arabic “words” does he secretly know? What we need is more Ed Henry-type reporter antiheroes to pin this down, before “Judgment Day.”

The supposed “only” Muslim word he said today was “Shukran,” which may or may not translate to the Christian term “thank you.” We are only aware of this secret translation intelligence — the Internet and Google do not speak Arabic, you bet Jesus they don’t — thanks to the deep undercover journalistic sleuthery of the USA TODAY blog The Oval, which has a local source.

Update: 10:17 a.m. ET: “Shukran” means “thank you” in Arabic, Mont Mensoor, a teacher of the language at Washington, D.C.’s Berlitz Center, tells the Oval.

Okay okay we get it, USA TODAY, you are not terrorists, you don’t know the terrorists’ mouth-sounds, you’ve got nothing to do with the terrorists, we won’t blame you for terrorism. You do not have to call an important language scholar for the translation of one basic Arabic pleasantry; it’s cool, you will not be sent to Gitmo.

Obama tries out his Arabic [USA TODAY]

Related video

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SayItWithWookies June 3, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Huh — if Islam is a religion of peace, why do they all speak terrorist?

AfghanVet June 3, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Can people still comments today or did everyone get thrown off? Shukran…I’m here all night…try the lamb.

Hooray For Anything June 3, 2009 at 3:39 pm

We should take bets as to see which WingNut pundit/blowhard gets the outrage ball rolling on this. Hannity? Malkin? David Gergen?

CockedAle June 3, 2009 at 3:41 pm

1 Arabic word? Meh. Palin says she knows 5 or 6 Arabic numerals. She can see them from Alaska!

Come here a minute June 3, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Everyone knows that only gays can translate Arabic, so USA TODAY is hereby OUTED as a gay socialist rag.

queeraselvis v 2.0 June 3, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I can already hear Rush, Sean, and Glenn baying to the moon about “Shukran” being an al Qaeda code word for GENTLEMEN START YER BOMZ.

Crab1 June 3, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Jesus spoke English. The bible is in English. Why is NOBAMA’s telepromter speak Islamosatinist?

BillyClubb June 3, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Yes but “thank-you” for what!!!1! What did Barry the crypto-Islamist get us in to?!

tunamelt June 3, 2009 at 3:42 pm

This is amazing. I took three semesters of Arabic in college. Does that make me a terrorist? I can make the mouth sounds and write the little “words.”

Which go RIGHT TO LEFT. That’s terrorist for you.

Lazy Media June 3, 2009 at 3:42 pm


NoWireHangers June 3, 2009 at 3:43 pm

QUICKLY–He must gargle Holy Water or God shall smite him.

Monsieur Grumpe June 3, 2009 at 3:44 pm

I thought “Shukran” meant “Kill whitey” ?

Delicious June 3, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Salaam Alaikum, muthafuckas!

tunamelt June 3, 2009 at 3:44 pm

جيم نويل هو إرهابي.

tunamelt June 3, 2009 at 3:44 pm

الإجهاض بالنسبة للجميع.

Mr Blifil June 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I think we have our new substitute for “Win!”

FTS! (For the Shukran!)

NoWireHangers June 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm

[re=331204]tunamelt[/re]: WITCH!

tunamelt June 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I can’t seem to get it to go right to left on here, though.

Jim Newell June 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm

[re=331204]tunamelt[/re]: I’M CALLING THE CIA

you cannot be serious June 3, 2009 at 3:46 pm

EEK! A polyglot!

Buffalodavid June 3, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Reminds me of the time right after 9/11 (Google it) that Bush talked about “the one who named the stars”, and someone pointed out that 99% of the stars have Arabic names.

orange June 3, 2009 at 3:47 pm


Noodle Salad June 3, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Well, “gracias” and “mas cervesa” was pretty much the only Messican that W knew, and the media called him fluent. Since we all know they don’t have dos equis in Saudi, the question now is WHY DID NOBAMA HIDE HIS MUSLIN FLUENCY?

Larry Fine June 3, 2009 at 3:48 pm

I hope our President didn’t shake hands with any of those Arabs, because after defecation, they wipe their asses with their hands – not with toilet paper.

Min June 3, 2009 at 3:48 pm



AfghanVet June 3, 2009 at 3:51 pm

[re=331221]Larry Fine[/re]: Here comes the hammer…I am not seeing a very good attempt at being funny.

NoWireHangers June 3, 2009 at 3:51 pm

[re=331213]Jim Newell[/re]: You realize that you too are complicit now that you have typed Muslin words on this blog. We must bless the pages or report you, Newell. WHO HAS HOLY WATER?


BillyClubb June 3, 2009 at 3:51 pm

[re=331221]Larry Fine[/re]: The left hand is used for these things, that’s why you never touch a middle easterner with the “unclean” hand — or so I heard…

SlipperyDick June 3, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Obama was just sending the Nutinista Liberation Front their secret signal to attack.

Holy Cow!! June 3, 2009 at 3:51 pm

If English was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for the President.

orange June 3, 2009 at 3:51 pm

لا كنت تتمنى ان تكون هذه 20 ثانية حياتك العودة

Country Club Jihadi June 3, 2009 at 3:51 pm

He said Shukran for the big ass rope chain they gave him when he got off the plane. Then he grabbed his mic like he was on Soul Train.

One Yield Regular June 3, 2009 at 3:53 pm

This reminds me of the great scandals that followed Ben Franklin’s saying “Bonjour” to Jacques-Donatien Le Rey de Chaumont, Richard Nixon’s mumbling “Ni hao” to Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, and George W. Bush’s asking the Queen Mum, “Where’s the loo at?”

magic titty June 3, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Shukran is the Muslin word for La Raza.

Servo June 3, 2009 at 3:56 pm

“You’re obviously not retarded like Tex.”

Canmon (the Inadequate) June 3, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Maybe that’s why Obama hasn’t stopped discharging those gay army translators. He doesn’t need them.

Joehoya June 3, 2009 at 3:58 pm

But was he bowing when he said it or lying prostrate on the floor?

gurukalehuru June 3, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Obama Akbar!

Bruno June 3, 2009 at 3:59 pm

He also knows the word sharmoot (bitch)

Mahousu June 3, 2009 at 3:59 pm

As you may have heard, W. also said “shukran,” whereupon someone threw a shoe at him. [This is actually true.]

Turns out, in the Iraqi dialect, “shukran” means “your mother sucks donkey dicks.” Oops!

rereridiculous June 3, 2009 at 4:03 pm

[re=331193]Crab1[/re]: The bible is in ‘Merican English. Jesus wasn’t no Britfag.

bitchincamaro June 3, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Wake me up when you’ve got pix of BO eating goat parts with his fingers.

TGY June 3, 2009 at 4:05 pm

[re=331219]orange[/re]: Shukran jive?

CockedAle June 3, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Yes we shukran.

smashtheduck June 3, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Can’t blame USA Today for a little fact checking after that unfortunate Chinese symbol tatt turned out to mean “ButtSecks Forever” instead of “Fear This”. Although shockingly, even “Fear This” is no longer considered the panty-dropper USA Today thought it would be.

TGY June 3, 2009 at 4:07 pm

[re=331184]Hooray For Anything[/re]: You left out el Rushbo, Newt, and young Billy Kristol.

AxmxZ June 3, 2009 at 4:07 pm

According to Dan Brown, that language is called “Islamic.”

american mutt June 3, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Reading those USA Today comments makes me wonder about the future negative, historical, reflections of Barack Obama –

“BooSuck Omoron: Muslim teleprompter teleprompter – How the dumbest man on earth is muslim and fucks teleprompters and I’m smrter than him!!11!” written by Tad Kleetus Witherton Jr.

doxastic June 3, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Well, now that our president isn’t embarrassing us internationally, SOMEONE’S got to have the cojones to do the job. I smell Tapper courting Drudge pageviews….

thejesusandmarycheney June 3, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Satanic runes everywhere! Newell, DO SOMETHING

magic titty June 3, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Still better than when GWB uttered ‘Haile Selassie Salaami Lakum’ when he first met the Saudi king…

Scarab June 3, 2009 at 4:11 pm

As an arab, I disagree with the President using this word.
Now every jag-off customer at a falafel stand is going to mispronounce it after he gets his pita. Just like those dorks who throw an awkward ‘aree-gaato’ at the sushi chef.

AxmxZ June 3, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Reminds me of when Obama managed to enunciate “Spasibo” after meeting with Medvedev, and all the Russians were like, “Well, aren’t you a poly-wollyglot – and yet your state department can’t get a simple computer term like ‘reload’ correct.”

doxastic June 3, 2009 at 4:16 pm

[re=331272]magic titty[/re]: That may be the first Haile Selassie joke I’ve ever seen. Well done M. Titty.

June Cleaver 2.0 June 3, 2009 at 4:18 pm

[re=331206]tunamelt[/re]: Oh how sexy! I didn’t know you were into that!

GreyPanter June 3, 2009 at 4:22 pm

[re=331221]Larry Fine[/re]: They use their left hands. Hopey is safe.

prophet1195 June 3, 2009 at 4:23 pm

It sounded like, “Get your sh*t together you m*ther f*ckin’ arab sh*ts before I testify and nookify yer asses”, to me.

vitamins taken helmet on June 3, 2009 at 4:24 pm

from Wikipedia:

“…educated Arabic speakers of sharply different dialects may resort to the use of English or French to communicate, since knowledge of foreign languages is a key part of education in most of the Arab world.”

Just imagine if educated Americans had knowledge of foreign languages. We would be as smart as the terrorists!

GreyPanter June 3, 2009 at 4:24 pm

What was the rest of the sentence in which the word “Shukran” was used? “Shukran, for not sending another dozen Saudis over to ram an airplane into a big building?”?

Hooray For Anything June 3, 2009 at 4:24 pm

[re=331266]american mutt[/re]: Speaking of which, did he just say shukran because it was on the teleprompter or did he not need it because of all that training in Jihad that he did at the madrassa he went to?

Fox n Fiends June 3, 2009 at 4:25 pm

I, for one, am happy to see our President greeting our OIL OVERLORDS in their native tongue. Drill Baby Drill!!!!

CockedAle June 3, 2009 at 4:25 pm

[re=331221]Larry Fine[/re]: R U a cave dweller? Our Barry does not shake hands. He’s Vulcan!

51dimes June 3, 2009 at 4:31 pm

He could appease the wingnuts, look at the Saudi king and say “Dirka dirka!”. Then he’ll turn to the camera and give a thumbs up. STARBURSTS.

paintitblack June 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Nah, what Barry Sotero really said: shukranI bow to you, Oil Overlords?

Homme June 3, 2009 at 4:45 pm

I’m cool with being a Muslim nation, but only if we’re like Kuwait, where we all get Corvettes and all dress like Will Smith in the “Miami” video.

Nigerian Business Executive June 3, 2009 at 4:47 pm

“Shukran” doesn’t mean “thank you”. It means “grey poupon mustard”, you fascist socialists.

The Station Manager June 3, 2009 at 4:51 pm

How dare he show even a modicum of decency to these t’rrrists! He should have just made out with him and nanced around holding hands like our last real p’rznit.

ZombieRichardFeynman June 3, 2009 at 4:51 pm

[re=331280]doxastic[/re]: The TV version of MASH had an Ethiopian in one of their plotlines. I don’t remember a thing about the episode other than Hawkeye saying “That’s Haile Selassie of you!”

nestor June 3, 2009 at 5:03 pm

[re=331206]tunamelt[/re]: [re=331231]orange[/re]: @#$%#@(:[]\,].[/%^$5(%#*%*^$(!#(%#@*
See! I can do it too!

american mutt June 3, 2009 at 5:10 pm

[re=331293]Hooray For Anything[/re]: Teleprompterz is actually a course in the madrassas.

problemwithcaring June 3, 2009 at 5:10 pm

It was just a mistake. He was trying to say “reset” in Russian.

Jukesgrrl June 3, 2009 at 5:10 pm

That whole arrival ceremony was a colossal fail. I kept waiting for Michelle to get off the plane with bare arms. THAT would have been a party. But, no, Hopey had to do the Muslin thing and leave her at home.

Timmy'sinthewell June 3, 2009 at 5:15 pm

That Barry is such a cunning linguist. I least that’s how I imagine it.

Rush June 3, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Ich ein bin Shukran

Lascauxcaveman June 3, 2009 at 5:25 pm

[re=331364]nestor[/re]: You can do it, but not very well. That’s supposed to be ‘^’ before ‘$’ except after ‘%.’


S.Luggo June 3, 2009 at 5:25 pm

“Chaka Khan” is islamo for Sotomayor.

President Beeblebrox June 3, 2009 at 5:43 pm


ALIVE! June 3, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Actually, “Shukran” is how you say “I’d like Dijon mustard with that” in Arabic.

paintitblack June 3, 2009 at 6:04 pm

[re=331439]ALIVE![/re]: WIN! Ya made me laugh!

RabidHamster June 3, 2009 at 6:56 pm

[re=331197]tunamelt[/re]: Not a terroris, just a bit [re=331191]gay[/re].

J-Man June 3, 2009 at 10:52 pm

At least it’s an improvement over GWB:
Saudi King: “As salaam alaikum, Mr. President.”
Bush: “And a big ShamWow to you too, buddy.”

naveed June 4, 2009 at 12:33 am

باراك أوباما ، ويتحدث العربية ، والجنون وسائل الإعلام ، إلخ.

Wolfard June 4, 2009 at 5:41 pm

I just read about this on a blog in DC

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