May 18, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8757

Saudi Writer: Erdogan Is Like A Monkey Who Dreams Of Being King Of The Jungle

May 18, 2020
Saudi Arabia, Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 8757

Against the backdrop of the high tension between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the Saudi daily 'Okaz published an unusually harsh article by Sattam bin Hadbaa mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The article tells a story about a monkey called Qirdowan (a play on the name Erdogan and "qird," the Arabic word for monkey) who is adored by a group of foolish cats and dreams of becoming king of the jungle. The monkey tries to stand up to the real king, the lion, only to get slapped in the face again and again. Eventually, he sees a squirrel in a dream who tells him that, since he is a dishonest and greedy coward, he should try becoming a gang leader rather than a king and live at the expense of the foolish cats who admire him. Through this story, the writer implies that Erdogan, too, dreams of leading the world and renewing the glory of the Ottoman empire, but in reality he is more like a gang-leader who exploits the fools who admire him.

The following are translated excerpts from the article.[1]

Sattam bin Hadbaa (Source: 'Okaz, Saudi Arabia, May 12, 2020)

"Yesterday, five-year-old Turki (the name means "Turkish") came to me and said, 'Uncle, let met tell you the story about the greedy monkey.’ I smiled and said, ‘I’d love to hear it.’ He said: ‘Two cats were arguing over a piece of cheese, and asked the monkey to settle their dispute. The monkey cut the cheese into two unequal pieces and placed them on the scales. The larger piece tipped the scales [to one side], so the monkey bit a piece off it and put it back. Now the other piece tipped the scales [to the other side], so he bit a piece off that one, and so on and so forth, until both pieces were gone and there was nothing left for the two cats, who went away disappointed. The end!’

"Then the boy asked me some questions. The first was: 'What were the cats arguing about?' I replied: ‘The cheese.’ Then he asked: ‘Why did they go to the monkey?’ I said: ‘So he would judge between them.’ He thought for a bit and then asked his last question: ‘So what were they left with?’ I answered: ‘No cheese at all.’ 

"Now it was my turn to tell him a story called 'Qirdowan,' which may be similar to the one he told me, for Qirdowan also exploited every dispute to get a bite [for himself] and every problem to make a few pennies [of profit]. [This monkey] used to tell the cats about his dreams and ambitions to be king of the jungle, for his forefathers were lions and tigers and he wanted to renew their glory.

"The cats would greet him, applaud him and cry out his name [in admiration], and, since they were weak and foolish cats, they pinned many hopes on him. When [Qirdowan] blocked the lion’s path, the lion would slap him in the face and Qirdowan would slink away disappointed. But when he returned to the cats, they would praise him and spin imaginary fairytales in which he [managed to] block the lion and the lion was distracted from [his job of] ruling the jungle. Qirdowan would think a lot about [his ambitions] and about the dreams that recurred in his tiny brain, imagining [himself] ruling over the foolish cats and taking their food. Then he would return to the lion, drunk with the adoration, applaud and slogans of the foolish cats, only to receive the usual slap in the face and turn away disappointed.

"Qirdowan remained in this state until [one day] he met a squirrel in the tree where he slept, who told him: 'Let me give you some advice, for I know a lot about you. I have seen you with the cats and with the lion.’ ‘Speak!’, replied Qirdowan. The squirrel said: ‘You are not fit to be the king of the jungle, for the ruler of the jungle must be someone strong and reliable, who does not break his promises and commitments. Why don’t you become a gang leader [instead]? You are opportunistic, dishonest, cowardly and greedy. The cats can be your gang members, for they believe you and praise you, and this tree can be your kingdom, where you can rule as you please and take the cats’ food, so that you never [have to] go to bed without supper.’ Then Qirdowan gave a screech and woke up from his dream. He understood he was living a lie and deceiving himself. His body [stiff] with cold and his eyes trembling, he fell unconscious never to wake up [again].

"At this point the innocent boy fell asleep as well, without asking who the monkey was and who the cats were."


[1] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), May 12, 2020.

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