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Wafa Sultan is a Syrian-born psychiatrist who immigrated to the U.S. in 1989. She is most well-known for appearing on Al-Jazeera in 2006 in a debate with sheikh Ibrahim Al-Khouli, when she delivered a memorable attack on Islam (which has since caused her to live in hiding). She just released a new book, entitled A God Who Hates. On October 20, Dr. Sultan addressed the Middle East Forum via conference call.
Islam is intrinsically destructive—that is Dr. Sultan's message. She began by discussing how she came about this conclusion, which is the story of her largely autobiographical book.
In her view, the Muslim world needs reform in three areas: Muslim nations must 1) grant their citizens the right to practice any—or no—faith; 2) they must reform school curricula, which currently teach intolerance and hatred for non-Muslims; 3) they must grant equal rights to women and eliminate the oppression Muslim women currently experience.
Dr. Sultan stressed this last point, saying the West has long ignored the plight of Muslim women, which is why her book spends extra time addressing the problems women face in the Muslim world. Her recommendation is for the West to cease apologizing for Islam and instead confront Islamic teachings directly and "put pressure" on Muslims to "come up with honest answers."
Asked whether rejecting Shari'a is tantamount to rejecting Islam itself, Dr. Sultan answered in the affirmative: to be a Muslim, one must accept the laws of Islam as laid out in the Qur'an and the words and deeds of Muhammad (the Hadith). Thus, while she accepts that there are "moderate Muslims," she insists that Islam itself is not and cannot be moderate. Still, she hopes that those who are trying to reform Islam will one day prove her wrong.
In response to a question on whether putting pressure on the Muslim world, as Dr. Sultan recommends, could provoke a backlash, she said that there would indeed probably be an initial backlash and perhaps an increase in violence. Regardless, Muslims will sooner or later have to confront the reality of Islam's "cruel" and "backwards" teachings.
Finally, asked about what Americans can do to make people aware of the threat, Dr. Sultan urged for pressure to be put on the U.S. government to confront Islam without politically correct restraints. She concluded by asserting her dream—that one day her native Syria will be as free as the United States.
From the front page of The New York Times to YouTube, Dr. Wafa Sultan has become a force radical Islam has to reckon with.
For the first time, she tells her story and what she learned, first-hand, about Islam in A God Who Hates, a passionate memoir by an outspoken Arabic woman that is also a cautionary tale for the West. She grew up in Syria in a Islamic culture ruled by a god who hates women.
How can such a culture be anything but barbarous?, Sultan asks. It cant, she concludes because any culture that hates its women cant love anything else. She believes that the god who hates is waging a battle between modernity and barbarism, not a battle between religions. She also knows that its a battle radical Islam will lose.
Condemned by some and praised by others for speaking out, Sultan wants everyone to understand the danger posed by A God Who Hates.
About the Author:
WAFA SULTAN is a Syrian-born American psychiatrist included on Time Magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2006.
She created a firestorm on Al-Jazeera as the first Arab Muslim woman on that network who demanded to be heard.
Several conference panelists discussed the contributions of specific reformist activists in Muslim-majority countries. Lilia Labidi, a professor at the University of Tunis and a former Wilson Center fellow, compared two women of different generations whose discourse and writings have shaped the reform movement. “Both women are currently active in the cultural and political spheres,” she said, “and will help us understand reform thinking among contemporary Tunisians.”
One of these women, Jalila Baccar, is an actress and playwright born in the 1950s who uses theater and the arts to advance political issues. “In her work, women are not taken in isolation or objectified, but rather seen as historical and political actors,” Labidi said. And, Ulfa Youssef, born in the 1970s, is a linguist and professor of Arabic literature, who uses psychoanalysis to focus on issues of family, sexuality, and individual rights.
In Niger, Malama A’ishatu, a Sufi Muslim woman (1924-2008), used radio, and later television, as platforms to question the place of women in Islam. Ousseina Alidou, director of African Languages and Literature at Rutgers University, said, “Her story illustrates her intervention as a religious thinker advocating for both religious and secular education for girls and women as a right within Islam.” Malama A’ishatu, a poet, teacher, and then broadcaster, advocated gender equal education as a conduit toward gender equality.
Gadis Arivia, from the University of Indonesia, recounted the efforts of an Indonesian religious scholar, Musda Mulia, who advocates family reform and took a lead in proposing a counter draft family law. More generally, she counters gender biases and fights violence against women.
The Philosophy of Reform
Ann Elizabeth Mayer, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said women are demanding that discriminatory laws get thrown out. Reformist women are pushing for equality in justice which, Mayer said, is at the heart of the Qur’an and must be reflected in Islamic law.
Kecia Ali, from Boston University, contrasted the work of male and female reformists, contending that reformist men tend not to recognize women’s religious interpretation. “By strategic appeal to specific verses of Qur’an and basic principles of fairness upon which many people can agree, [women] campaign for better laws,” she said. While men engage in more intellectual reform, Ali said, women focus more upon pragmatic endeavors such as reforms to custody laws and divorce regulations. She underscored the importance of developing reformist methodologies that are grounded in the women’s experience.
Mahnaz Afkhami president of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace, which has played a role in helping reform family laws in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, underscored that, “It is not Islam that holds us back. Rather it is the path the history of patriarchy in Muslim-majority societies has taken that limits our freedom.”
Iran's Green Movement has embraced a new symbol of protest: the woman's veil. In an unprecedented show of support for women's rights, Iranian men have posted photos of themselves wearing the head covering typically worn by Muslim women. The images show hundreds of men clad in bright green headscarves posing mockingly for the camera.
This campaign was sparked by the government's attempt to humiliate leading student activist Majid Tavakoli. Authorities arrested Tavakoli after he delivered a fiery anti-government speech during Iran's Student Day demonstrations on December 7th. Following his detention, the semi-official Fars News Agency published photos of him wearing a woman's veil, claiming that he had been found trying to escape from campus using it as a disguise. Many members of the opposition believe the photos were fabricated to discredit and disgrace the young activist.
Now, men too have taken up the veil as a symbol of political protest.
Originally posted by Zosynspiracy
Wow! I JUST heard her being interviewed on a local radio station here in California this morning. I have to say what she says is VERY eye opening and intriguing. She was basically saying that if she were back in Syria her family would have to have her killed for denouncing Islam and being a nonbeliever. Supposedly her brother said her being over here is saving him a bullet. She says there are many Muslim children growing up in America mosques are being indoctrinated to hate the west and become terrorists. RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA! Although I'm against the war on terror for many reasons I do feel Islam and terrorism is a huge threat to our way of life. I'd rather be kicking them out of our country and shutting down mosques instead of sending young men and women to die over there fighting terrorists.