Saudi Arabian officials and citizens alike were outraged earlier this week, when it was discovered that Bing’s translation service was translating the word ‘Daesh’ into ‘Saudi Arabia’ for English-speaking users.
The translation was quickly corrected, and Dr. Mamdouh Najjar, the Vice President of Microsoft in Saudi Arabia, apologized for what happened. “As an employee of Microsoft, I apologise personally to the great Saudi people and this country, dear to all our hearts, for this unintentional mistake.”
Najjar blamed the mistake on the way that Bing constructs its translations. The service relies on crowdsourcing, so if more than a thousand people suggest an alternative to any given translation, it will be changed to reflect that.
So apparently, hundreds or thousands of people may have suggested that Daesh and Saudi Arabia are one in the same.
Of course, those Bing users are probably right. This isn’t so much of a mistake, as it is a semantics argument.
Saudi Arabia is ruled by a ruthless regime that adheres to an extreme form of Islam known as Wahhabism; the same ideology that inspires ISIS. And much like ISIS, Saudi Arabia routinely tortures and executes people in their territory for minor religious infractions. Saying that Saudi Arabia isn’t the same as ISIS, is like splitting hairs.