The poem of interest, namely “لا تسافر بجواز عربي” (“Do not travel on an Arab passport”) is describing Nizar Qabbani‘s concern about the wave of immigration from Lebanon after the beginning of the Lebanese civil war in 1975. However, in 40 years, it looks like the Syrian poet is giving recommendations to Arab refugees in Europe:

Do not travel on Arab passport.
Don’t travel to Europe no more,
Europe is too small for every
Suspicious outcast,
Righteous cock,
Or a victim with neither a murder weapon
Nor a killer.
Don’t travel to the land of Allah,
He doesn’t want to meet with a coward.

Do not travel on Arab passport.
Don’t wait like a rat in airports,
The light is red.
Do not say in Classical Arabic:
“My name is Marwan”,
Or Adnan.
Or Sahban
To the blonde cashier at Harrods.
The name means nothing to her.
And your history, dear sir,
Is nothing but forgery.

Do not boast about your heroic ancestors
To Susan,
Jeanine,
or Colette,
Or another thousand of french girls.
They’ve never heard about Antarah.
Dear friend:
You look laughable at night in Paris,
Go back to your hotel,
Because the red light has lit.

Translation by Andrey Anisimov

P.S. It may not be visible, but in the beginning of his diplomatic career Qabbani (سقى الرحمن مثواه) preached the ideas of Arab nationalism. However, with strong help of Hafez al-Asad and Lebanese pseudo-democratic leaders, the poet understood that there is not much to love in terms of patriotism. So did the Syrian refugees.

 

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One thought on “History repeats itself

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