AP changes Fresno killer’s words from ‘Allahu Akbar’ to English equivalency, breaking its own rules

The Associated Press came under fire Tuesday when they translated an infamous Arabic phrase used by Islamic extremists to its English equivalency.

On Tuesday, Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, allegedly shot and killed three white people at random in the span of less than two minutes in Fresno, California.

According to police, Muhammad screamed “Allahu akbar” during his arrest, which in Arabic means “God is great.”

However, according to CNN, police don’t believe the crime was terrorism-related. Instead, police say Muhammad, a black man, chose his three victims because of their race.

But when The Associated Press tweeted out its story on the incident, it invoked what Muhammed said when he was apprehended. But instead of reporting Muhammad’s words as they were allegedly said, the AP chose to translate it to English. Also, the outlet gave no indication that Muhammad said the phrase in Arabic.

“Fresno police say suspect in triple slaying told them he hates white people, shouted ‘God is great’ before killings,” the AP tweeted.

Image via screenshot
Image via screenshot

To double down, the AP refused to report the actual phrase Muhammad uttered to police in Arabic in its initial reporting.

“Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says the suspect in a shooting that killed three people in downtown Fresno shouted ‘God is great’ in Arabic and had posted on social media that he dislikes white people,” the AP wrote.

It’s not clear why the AP chose to translate the phrase instead of reporting it exactly as it was said, and then giving an English translation.

According to the AP stylebook, which governs grammar, words and style used in most of journalism, “Allahu akbar” is the acceptable and correct phrase to use.

Image source: screenshot
Image source: screenshot

Further, in the stylebook’s section on using foreign words and phrasing in news stories, it states that universally accepted and known foreign words or phrases can be used without an English translation. If they aren’t universally known, then the AP instructs that the foreign phrase be placed in quotation marks followed by an English definition.

Image source: screenshot
Image source: screenshot

The Associated Press’ tweet certainly did not follow its own rules.

Many blamed the AP’s decision on political correctness.

The AP responded to criticism Wednesday morning by deleting the original tweet because it “failed to note he said [the phrase] in Arabic.”

The AP went on to retweet the story this time noting Muhammad said the phrase in Arabic, but still failed to follow its own rules by reporting the phrase in its original language.

“Fresno police: Slaying suspect told them he hates white people, shouted “God is great” in Arabic before killings,” the outlet wrote in its updated tweet.