Monday, March 20, 2006

Who is Wafa Sultan

A good question. Wafa Sultan is an arab american psychiatrist who has been in the news lately since...well to quote (link):

Wafa Sultan, an Arab-American psychiatrist, has been at the center of a journalistic blizzard ever since debating—and devastating—an Egyptian professor of religious studies, Dr. Ibrahim al-Khouli, on Al-Jazeera TV. The broadcast was made available on the Internet by the Middle East Media Research Institute, and has since been viewed over a million times.

Some of her quotes:

When you recite to a child still in his early years the verse: “They will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off,” …you have made the first step towards creating a great terrorist.

It is seldom that someone that the media pays attention to will make such a straight forward statement, then she follows it with:

The Muslims are the ones who began using this expression. The Muslims are the ones who began the clash of civilizations. The Prophet of Islam said: "I was ordered to fight the people until they believe in Allah and His Messenger." When the Muslims divided people into Muslims and non-Muslims, and called to fight the others until they believe in what they themselves believe, they started this clash, and began this war. In order to [stop] this war, they must reexamine their Islamic books and curricula, which are full of calls for takfir and fighting the infidels.

And then goes, not in the direction of blaming the terrorism on the west, but on what the terrorists have been taught:

In our countries, religion is the sole source of education, and is the only spring from which that terrorist drank until his thirst was quenched. He was not born a terrorist, and did not become a terrorist overnight. Islamic teachings played a role in weaving his ideological fabric, thread by thread, and did not allow other sources—I am referring to scientific sources—to play a role. It was these teachings that distorted this terrorist and killed his humanity. It was not (the terrorist) who distorted the religious teachings and misunderstood them, as some ignorant people claim. [Emphasis added].

the hundred thousand innocent women and men killed in Algeria, thousands of Syrian civilians, including the murder by the Muslim Brotherhood of Sultan’s professor at the University of Aleppo; the massacre of Coptic peasants in Egypt, and terrorism in Indonesia and Turkey—all this is the handiwork of people who’ve heeded, not hijacked, Islam.

She then makes a statement that I'm sure will not be well taken at all:

The Jews have come from the tragedy (of the Holocaust), and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror, with their work, not their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. Fifteen million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them.

But why is she getting all of this attention? As the article at Blogcritics says (link):

The difference seems to be one of authenticity. That a Muslim woman would dare to go head-to-head with a senior and respected Muslim cleric in prime time struck a nerve. According to the Memri TV, the Al-Jazeera debate has been viewed more than a million times. Dr. Al-Khouli , who teaches at the famed Al-Azhar university in Cairo, seems to be something of a regular on Al-Jazeera; he's the reliably medieval voice on its Al-Itijah Al-Mu'akis (Opposite Directions) program. The dude didn't know what hit him. At one point, the poor man was reduced to:

If you are a heretic, there is no point in rebuking you, since you have blasphemed against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran...

As far as her own story goes:

As a medical student in Syria, she'd been a witness to the murder of her professor in 1979 by the Muslim Brotherhood. As she told the New York Times:

They shot hundreds of bullets into him, shouting, 'God is great!' " she said. "At that point, I lost my trust in their god and began to question all our teachings. It was the turning point of my life, and it has led me to this present point. I had to leave. I had to look for another god.

I think that we will be hearing much from Dr. Wafa Sultan over the next year or so. Once the media grabs something, it does not set it down. That can be a strength or a weakness. What the effects of Dr. Sultan and her message will be is a question that people will need more time to answer. What we do know is that this is a new voice, and although she is not saying new things, she is saying them in a new way...directly.


erudit said...

And we can predict, probably reliably, that it will not go well with her.

But brava to a courageous, and simply sensible, woman.

Egypeter said...

Hey David -

I saw your comment on FreeCopts and just wanted to send a quick hello friend!!

I hope you and your family are doing well during this special Lenten Season :)

I'm sure you are aware of how we Copts fast during Lent...nothing at all from animals can be consumed. It's a tough one :) (Can't tell you how many beans I've consumed so far)

I also want you to know I visit your blog at least once a day...and am still loving it!

Please continue to keep us in your prayers...especially this ancient and historic monastary that the idiots in Egypt want to destroy...I can't tell you how much it pains (and angers) me when I hear news stories like that! I feel so helpless that I can't do a darn thing. Well, I can pray and will continue :)

Take care and God Bless you mightily brother!!

DavidNic said...

Thanks Peter, we are well. I was thinking about doing a Coptic style fast this year, but I figured I'd get used to not smoking first.

God bless you in everything you do Peter.

And may he soon bring comfort to the suffering in the way that fits His will.

Anonymous said...

before saying she devasted the sheikh...let's take a look at the full trancript! Once you do, you will see she is the blabbering idiot, not he!