“We have the tape,” US President Donald Trump finally admitted that there is a tape-recording of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi – but then he immediately added: “I don’t want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape.” When he was asked why, he said: “Because it’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it. There’s no reason for me to hear it.”
He elaborated further: “I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it … It was very violent, very vicious and terrible.”
It was good to see the man who had no qualms about dropping “the mother of all bombs” (MOAB) on Afghanistan or arming Saudi Arabia to the teeth to slaughter Yemenis had suddenly developed a gentle soul and felt he could not handle hearing the suffering of a single person being strangled.
Soon after Trump revealed he had refused to listen to Khashoggi’s murder tape, we learned something else from John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, about this tape. “No, I haven’t listened to it,” he echoed his boss. “Why do you think I should? What do you think I’ll learn from it? Unless you speak Arabic, what are you going to get from it … I don’t speak Arabic.”
That was much clearer now. We now learned the late Jamal Khashoggi was screaming in Arabic when he was being strangled by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s henchmen. We can therefore also surmise from Mr Trump and Mr Bolton’s remarks, that the butchers attending to him were also sawing him in Arabic – and in fact, to paraphrase Senator Lindsey Graham’s words, even the saw was smoking in Arabic. That makes a lot of sense now.
Soon after Bolton, US Defense Secretary James Mattis also said he had declined to listen to the tape because he too “cannot understand that language”. He curiously would say the name of the language in which the scream was screamed and the victim was murdered.
Let us be honest though: Can we really imagine Donald Trump or John Bolton speaking and understanding Arabic (or any other language for that matter) – they who commit their atrocities only in their pidgin English?
Still, their dodging of the Khashoggi tape got me thinking: How do you scream in Arabic?
Giggling in Armenian, chuckling in Amazigh
Not knowing how Arabs scream in Arabic I decided to Skype a few friends in Morocco, Tunisia, all the way to Egypt, Palestine, even in Oman and Kuwait and Jordan and ask them to scream in Arabic for me a little bit. They all started laughing hysterically, which was not useful.
One Lebanese friend who is a professor of philosophy started giggling in Armenian, another Tunisian friend, a literary critic, went into a stupor in French. My Moroccan friend was still chuckling in Amazigh when I hung up. A Palestinian friend from inside Israel sneered in Hebrew. All of that came to nought.
So how in the world do Arabs scream?
When that bit of what anthropologists call ethnography did not get me anywhere, I decided to do a little research to see if there was any insight into how Arabs scream in Arabic.