Awkward: Saudi interpreter ignores German FM’s defense of Qatar

The live broadcast of a press conference by Germany’s foreign minister in Jeddah caused major embarrassment for a simultaneous interpreter, who stopped translating his remarks when he appeared to criticize the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.

The awkward moment took place during a joint press conference following a meeting between Germany’s Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, and his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir in the Red Sea city, to discuss the Gulf crisis.

Responding to a question, the German minister said: “We (Germany) have said it is not acceptable to blockade and isolate Qatar in this manner.” The interpreter on Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ekhbaria news channel was dumbstruck and opted to repeat only the words: “We Germans” over and over for a whole minute, before mistranslating the entire segment with the words “Qatar’s sovereignty should not be touched.”

The incident at the press conference has sparked sarcastic and critical reactions on social media, with many calling it a scandal, while some defended the interpreter saying she was probably afraid of recrimination in the event she conveyed the minister’s remarks word-for-word.

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