Sgt. Bergdahl’s Father Begins White House Remarks with Koranic Phrase in Arabic

By Barbara Boland | June 2, 2014 | 4:25pm EDT

Upon news of his son's release at the White House, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's father, Bob, chose as his first words to his son an Arabic phrase: "bism allah alrahman alraheem."

The phrase means "in the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate," as translated by Professor William Watson. "It is called the fatiha, the 'opening' and is supposed to be said before anything else is to be conveyed in Islam," Watson explained.

Claire Lopez, a former CIA operations officer, points out that every chapter of the Koran begins with this phrase.

When Bergdahl takes the podium, he says: "I'd like to say to Bowe right now, who is having trouble speaking English..." and he then recites this famous Arabic phrase from the Koran. As he does so, President Obama smiles.

According to The World Factbook, 50% of the people in Afghanistan speak Persian or Dari, 35% speak Pashto, and 11% speak Turkic languages (Uzbek or Turkmen) with 4% speaking 30 minor languages.

Arabic is not listed.


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