We must begin this profile with a question: Is there a more contemptible poseur than Wafa Sultan who calls herself an atheist but in the same breath also claims to be a Muslim reformer, which would kind of be like Christopher Hitchens calling himself a Christian reformer? It is difficult to answer that question with certainty considering the wide pool of bigots who combine charlatanism with raving and incorrigible insanity. But for sure one thing is certain, she is completely undeserving of the 15 minutes of fame she has succeeded in procuring.
In this sense, Wafa Sultan falls into the same category as Walid Shoebat, Brigitte Gabriel, Nonie Darwish, Kamal Saleem, Zachariah Anani and other self-proclaimed turn coats from their Arab and Muslim identities. As we mentioned before this group attempts to parlay their “otherness,” and so-called “insider knowledge of the Muslim world,” (the “I’ve been there, I know” line) into a cash cow. Meanwhile, we are supposed to be duped into freaking out and running back to them for more “expert” advice brought to us from our loyal friend who ventures into the other side on our behalf.
Sultan is no different, her tale of flight into Islamophobic stardom is a curious and thoroughly modern one. In the beginning of this tale Sultan was invited onto a show hosted by the well known anchorman of AlJazeera’s Opposing Viewpoints (Ittijaah al-Mu’aakas), Faisal Al-Qasim for the purpose of a debate with professor Ibrahim al-Khouly from Al-Azhar on the topic of the Clash of Civilizations and the Clash of Religions. Al-Qasim, brought her onto the show originally after noticing some of her articles on the Arabic website called AnNaqed (The Critic). The New York Times reported that the website was an Islamic reform site, but in actuality it turns out that it is a Christian website,
[T]he web site called Annaqed (www.annaqed.com) she supposedly wrote for before being noticed by Al-Jazeera Television is not an “Islamic reform Web Site” as was reported in the New York Times article, but rather an Arab nationalist blog run by a Syrian Christian who defines it as being “in line with Christian morality and principles.” The site is also replete with anti-Muslim writings.
On the show she supported the thesis of a clash and stated that the conflict between the West and Islam is,
a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another that belongs to the 21st century… a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality.
MEMRI, (Middle East Media Research Institute) which peddles in biased, selective, de-contextualized, error-filled, and misleading translations of news, shows and opinion from Middle East television took the 45 minute show and per its modus operandi chopped up and edited the show into a 5 minute sound bite of Wafa Sultan’s attack on Muslims and Islam. In the process, and without any respect for translational integrity they also attempted to deceptively frame Professor Khouly as proclaiming Sultan a “heretic,” when, as this fully translated transcript shows he did no such thing. Instead Khouly responded to Sultan’s jibes with questions that though we might not agree to the way he frames them are far from irrational or undebatable,
…here we must ask a question, who facilitated the conflict and indeed initiated it; is it the Muslims? Muslims now are in a defensive position fighting off an aggressor… who said Muslims were backward? They may be backward in terms of technological advances, but who said that such are the criteria for humanity?
That is just the beginning of the story, the MEMRI produced video was downloaded to YouTube where it went viral receiving over a million hits and like wild fire the anti-Muslim blogosphere picked it up. Instantly, over night, Sultan was a star. In this consumer age, MEMRI’s rendition of the show gave the public what it wanted to see: a spectacle. It fit in well with the narrative of an oppressed Mooslim woman “finally” standing up for her rights and taking on the world of Islam.
Sultan capitalized on the spotlight she had and with all the ingenuity and creativeness of a con-artist spun a tale which essentially boils down to her “dark days growing up in the barbaric ‘Islamic nation’ of Syria.” A good example of her deception can be gleaned from a recent article she wrote for the neo-conservative website Hudson New York,
As an Arab woman who suffered for three decades living under Islamic Sharia, it is clear to me that Islam’s political ideology and Sharia must be fought relentlessly by Western civilization to prevent its application in a free society. (emphasis added)
This encapsulates the opportunism that motivates Sultan and it also reveals the contempt with which she holds her readers whose intelligence she seeks to insult with such a blatant lie. She attempts to paint her three decades in Syria as a nightmare in which she suffered the brutal force of a Taliban-esque regime that implemented Islamic law on her constantly. The absurdity is only matched by the bravado of her claim, as anyone who cared to check (Wikipidea for instance) could tell you that the regime that ruled Syria had nothing to do with Islam.
The regime in Syria, during much of the time period that Sultan talks about was ruled by the secular, anti-Shariah Ba’athist dictator Hafiz al-Assad who happens to come from the same privileged sect that Sultan was born into: the Alawies. Her allegation is even more obscene considering the fact that Hafiz al-Assad massacred 20,000 villagers in Hama, Syria who were members of the Muslim Brotherhood. One has to ask Sultan, if you were made to suffer for thirty years under Islamic Sharia’, how could you, a woman, have finished your medicine degree at the University of Aleppo? On top of that, would an Islamic Sharia state as horrid as you describe have funded your education for free?
Another good example of her tale of woe is the profile carried by self-described “bad girl of Islam” Asra Nomani in TIME magazine. Asra Nomani, who can’t pen anything without including herself writes,
I connected with her (Sultan’s) anger and pain. She questioned Islam in 1979, when, she says, she witnessed the murder of a professor by men with alleged ties to the ultraconservative Muslim Brotherhood political group.
As to the claim that her professor (thought to be Yusef Al-Yusef) was gunned down before her eyes in a faculty classroom at the University of Aleppo, Halabi said the incident never took place. “There was a professor who was killed around 1979, that is true, but it was off-campus and Sultan was not even around when it happened,” he added.
InFocus contacted the University of Aleppo and spoke to Dr. Riyad Asfari, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, who confirmed Halabi’s account. “Yes, the assassination took place off-campus,” he said. Dr. Asfari was keen to add that no one had ever been killed in a classroom anytime or anywhere at the university.
Syrian expatriate Ghada Moezzin, who attended the University of Aleppo in 1979 as a sophomore, told InFocus that she never heard of the assassination. “We would’ve known about the killing if it had happened,” she said. “It would have been big news on campus and I do not recall ever hearing about it.” Moezzin, who lives in Glendora, Calif., added that government security was always present around the university given the political climate in Syria at the time.
Half-truths and lies corroborate and reveal the true motive behind Sultan’s hate and invective against Islam: money. The article reveals more,
Adnan Halabi*, a Syrian expatriate who met and got to know the Sultans when they first came to the United States, spoke at length about the Wafa Sultan that very few people know.
According to Halabi, Dr. Wafa Ahmad (her maiden name) arrived in California with her husband Moufid (now changed to David) in the late 80s on a tourist visa. Contrary to what she told the New York Times, they came as a couple, leaving their two children back in Syria.
Another source named Nabil Mustafa, also Syrian, told InFocus that he was introduced to Moufid Sultan through a personal friend who knew the family well, and both ended up having tea at the Sultans’ one-bedroom apartment one evening in 1989. It was then that Moufid told Mustafa the story of how he was reunited with his two children. According to Mustafa, Moufid Sultan told him that a short time after they arrived in the country, his wife, Dr. Wafa Sultan, mailed her passport back to her sister Ilham Ahmad in Syria (while the passport still carried a valid U.S. tourist visa). With Ilham bearing a resemblance to her sister Wafa, the plan was to go to the Mexican Embassy in Damascus and obtain a visa to Mexico, making sure that the airline carrier they would book a flight on would have a layover somewhere in the Continental United States.
With an existing U.S. visa on Wafa Sultan’s passport, Ilham Ahmad had no trouble obtaining an entry permit to Mexico. Shortly after, Ilham and Wafa’s two children landed in Houston, Texas. She and the children then allegedly made their way through customs and were picked up by Moufid and brought to California.
Taking advantage of an amnesty law for farmers, the Sultans applied for permanent residency through a Mexican lady who worked as a farm hand. She helped Moufid with the paperwork by claiming he had worked as a farmer for four years. The application went through and the Sultans obtained their green cards.
As incredible as the story sounds, Mustafa told InFocus that to the best of his recollection, this was the exact account he heard from Moufid Sultan. Halabi, who is not acquainted with Mustafa, corroborated the story, which he heard from Dr. Wafa Sultan herself but with fewer details. Dr. Wafa Sultan declined InFocus’ repeated requests to be interviewed or comment on the allegations. InFocus contacted the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to check on the veracity of the story but an official said that they would look into the allegations, which could take months to investigate.
Halabi alleges that Ilham Ahmad lived as illegal resident with her sister Wafa for years until she met an Arab Christian named Khalid Musa Shihadeh whom she ended up marrying (they were married in Nevada on 12/8/1991 and filed for divorce in 2002). It was during that time that Halabi got to know the Sultans well.
Halabi alleges that the Sultans lived in dire poverty. “Their rent was over $1,000 per month and Moufid was only making $800,” he said. Dr. Wafa Sultan was forced to rent out a room in her apartment and work at a pizza parlor in Norwalk, Calif. where a personal friend used to pick her up and drop her off daily. This same friend used to help the Sultans out with groceries and occasionally loaned them money just so they could make it through the month. “It was a serious struggle,” Halabi recalled. “The Sultans lived hand to mouth for years on end.” Further, Halabi said that at no point during the period he knew the family did Sultan ever discuss religion, politics or any topic relevant to her current activities. “She is a smart woman, articulate and forceful, but she never meddled in religion or politics to the extent she is doing now,” Halabi said.
Sultan is not condemned only by Muslims, non-Muslims have come out and strongly condemned her as well.
Sultan’s detractors include not only Muslims but members of the Jewish community as well. In an op-ed piece published in the Los Angeles Times (June 25, 2006) and titled “Islam’s Ann Coulter,” Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, who attended a fundraiser for a local Jewish organization where Sultan was a speaker, wrote, “The more Sultan talked, the more evident it became that progress in the Muslim world was not her interest…. She never alluded to any healthy, peaceful Islamic alternative.”
The rabbi mentioned that Judea Pearl, father of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, “was one of the few voices of restraint and nuance heard that afternoon. In response to Sultan’s assertion that the Koran contains only verses of evil and domination, Pearl said he understood the book also included ‘verses of peace’ that proponents of Islam uphold as the religion’s true intent. The Koran’s verses on war and brutality, Pearl contended, were ‘cultural baggage,’ as are similar verses in the Torah.”
He added, “Sultan’s over-the-top, indefensible remarks at the fundraiser, along with her failure to mention the important, continuing efforts of the Islamic Center (of Southern California), insulted all Muslims and Jews in L.A. and throughout the nation who are trying to bridge the cultural gap between the two groups. And that’s one reason why I eventually walked out of the event.”
The hope is that more and more people like Rabbi Stephen Stein will see Wafa Sultan for who she is: a hateful, opportunistic poseur. The atheist who calls Islam and Muslims “backward and primitive,” “incapable of reform,” the Qur’an as only filled with “evil,” yet can’t see the self-contradiction in her befuddling statements that growing up in secular Syria she “suffered from Islamic Shariah” and “I even don’t believe in Islam, but I am a Muslim.” Go figure.
UPDATE: In retrospect, our piece on Wafa Sultan seems not to have been harsh enough on her hate. In light of recent comments she has made while on her book tour at synagogues and churches, the poseur can properly be renamed, Wafa Stalin Sultan because the atheism that she believes in is propelled by the same genocidal and insane impulses that led another loon, Joseph Stalin.
Atlas Shrugs (read: Pamela Geller on Drugs) made our jobs easy by posting a video clip of Wafa Stalin Sultan going off the deep end. In the video, Sultan is addressing a group at a synagogue in NYC and says,
“I believe King Abdullah can change Islam overnight, but you need to put pressure on him to do it, and the same kind of pressure you put on Japan, you might need it” at that moment someone from the audience interjects and asks, “atom bombs?” Wafa Sultan replies, “Yes. At some point the West will need to do it.” At the end of her speech, she utters something quite strange for an atheist, “God bless you and God bless America.” More charlatanism?
During the question and answer session she divides moderate Muslims into three categories: 1.) a majority, 80% who are unaware of the real teachings of Islam, 2.) huge chunks of them are practicing Taqiyyah, 3.) a very small progressive group who have no effect. All talking points from the far right-wing wing.
The rest of the question and answer session is interesting as well, and pocked full of more and more lies from Wafa Stalin Sultan. Check it out for yourselves.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDeqlwhE2xc 300 250]
This disgusting little woman continues with her fascist fearmongering, she says, “Islam is infiltrating and you are doing nothing about it.” Someone from the audience then asks Sultan, “How would we stop it from infiltrating?” Sultan replies, “Get involved in politics, you have to know the kind of leaders you are choosing.” The man then says, “If we got involved in politics, what would our platform be, what would we say?” Sultan replies quoting Geert Wilders, “Islam is not religion!” The man interrupts and asks, “what would our platform be, what would A, B and C be?” Sultan replies, “the same you dealt with Nazism. The same way, the same exact way. The same way!” To this she receives a big applause from the all too captive audience…”you reversed the Japanese culture, the same, you might need to do it, you might need to do a heavy pressure, I cannot predict the kind of pressure, you understand it, I don’t have to say it.” Quite chilling the way she nonchalantly advocates nuking Muslims.
Sultan also says, “You know Geert Wilders has said if he becomes Prime Minister of Holland he will ban the Quran, I admire him for that.” The audiences glibly agrees with her with mutterings of “yes.” If you want to see how fascism takes hold then watch the video. My only question is how much are these synagogues and churches paying her for her speaking appearances?[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQaix-jM82M 300 250]