July 12, 2009 --
IN a jaw-dropper that could be straight out of the movie "Bruno," the best-selling book "Gay Travels in the Muslim World" has been translated into Arabic -- but with the title equating gays to perverts.
And Michael Luongo, who penned the controversial guide, tells Page Six the twisted translation could spell danger on his promotional tour.
"This is the first-ever gay book to have been translated into Arabic after first having been printed in English, so I am very proud," Luongo said. "The only problem -- the big problem -- is that they used an old word in Arabic for gay which also means 'pervert.' So the new book has in huge words 'Michael Luongo -- Pervert Travels in the Muslim World' across the cover."
Luongo, also a veteran writer for Frommer's, is set to tour the Mideast in October, including Israel, Lebanon and Jordan, "but this has thrown a wrench into the plans. Imagine standing in front of a crowd declaring yourself a pervert. So far I have avoided real fatwas, though I've been told the Taliban produced a Web site condemning the book. But with this new title, who knows? Who needs such a thing when going to such a dangerous place to begin with?"
Luongo says he's asked his Arab-language publisher to change the offensive word to "a more modern and polite one." He adds: "Remember that even in America, in the time of Stonewall 40 years ago, 'pervert' was the word used instead of 'gay' and the Arab world just hasn't caught up."
While that article describes travels to begin in October, according to a follow up story in the newspaper for the gay community, the Advocate, Luongo is planning to go to Iraq next maonth:
Meanwhile, the well-traveled journalist said the controversy makes him feel more cautious, but not deterred, about a planned trip to Iraq next month. He visited the country previously without incident after his book received attention in the English-language press, though he acknowledges that putting the work into Arabic could bring different reactions. The book has been attacked on a website created by a former member of the Taliban.
“I thought overall it was more important to have an Arabic translation than to worry about the risk,” said Luongo. “The problem of the translation itself is educational. We’ve gone through this here in the United States. It’s a learning experience.”
I do hope he realizes how dangerous it has become for gays in Iraq.
Hat Tip Women Against Shariah