Dr Wafa Sultan

If publishing a bunch of cartoons results in significant death and destruction around the world, imagine what it must require to actually speak critically of Islam on an Arabic television program. Dr Wafa Sultan has — how should I put it — gonads the size of the globe. A Syrian-American psychiatrist living outside Los Angeles, she is talking. Her talk is not pretty.

Here is a video clip of her appearance of Feb 21st on Al Jajeera. This video has been downloaded millions of times.

Today’s New York Times has a profile of Dr Wafa Sultan. The Washington Times editorial of March 4th began thus:

To judge by her appearances on al Jazeera, Los Angeles psychologist Wafa Sultan is the very definition of fearlessness. Face-to-face with radical Islamists before millions of potentially hostile viewers around the Arab world, Ms. Sultan — a secular Arab American fluent in Arabic — does not flinch when called a heretic and a blasphemer. For all we know, she is endangering her life.

She has received death threats, naturally.

I am of course unconditionally in favor of free speech and free beliefs. My most memorable line from her confrontation with her Egyptian interlocutor Mr. Al-Khouli (who had compared Christians to apes and pigs) after he had called her a heretic is, “Brother, you can believe in stones, as long as you don’t throw them at me.”

I could not have said it better. I don’t care what you believe in or what you hold sacred, just don’t go on a murderous spree if I refuse to share your beliefs or your views. All the good things that the world has to offer arose out of the enlightenment which is congruent with the freedom of humans to think thoughts that could be considered heretical and blasphemous. I have defended the freedom of speech, although I would have wished that it needed no defense. All development — including economic development — is predicated on the freedom of speech and expression. India needs to understand that. Otherwise India will continue to be part of that backward set that kills people for speaking their truth.

Dr Wafa Sultan’s days are numbered. So I bow deep in recognition of the courage that she displays in speaking because she is in effect signing her own death sentence.

Breaking news: Bombs recovered from local train station in Mumbai. I expect that Dr Manmohan Singh will ask people to stay calm and go about their business as usual. Ms Sonia Gandhi has saris already. Would anyone like to contribute to a fund for buying saris for her handmaidens who don’t have saris?

Author: Atanu Dey


31 thoughts on “Dr Wafa Sultan”

  1. Atanu, I have not seen these cartoons that caused such an uproar. Would you mind posting some on your site?

    Atanu’s response: There are literally hundreds of sites that have the cartoons. I did a google search and came up with this Mohammed image site.


  2. Brilliant quote that, on ‘believing in stones’. Very apt. Yes, one cannot better it.

    Atanu’s response: I suppose you did not miss the allusions. First, believing in stones refers to the black meteoritic rock of the Kaabaa. Then the throwing of stones is a reference to the stoning of women who are accused of adultery.


  3. What Wafa Sultan has done is question beliefs, putting a garb of religion does not make all beliefs sacred. If it were so we would still be believing that the sun went around the earth and not vice versa, sati would be a common practice in Hindu society and the world would be living with countless other social evils.

    What is noticeable and very disturbing is the self imposed censorship of the Indian media, there has been no mention of her or the remarkable interview and the challenges she has posed, this is a perverse way of “not offending religious sentiments”. Our media too behaves with a medieval attitude when it comes to certain issues.

    Atanu’s response: It would be instructive for some reference regarding the claim that sati was common practise in Hindu society, or that Hinduism mandates it or even that it mandate it at some point in Indian history. Since the claim has been made in this comment, I would require some references, else this comment needs to be amended.


  4. Atanu, I had definitely thought about different allusions and made my own interpretations. In fact, one of them was stoning to death. But I surely hadn’t thought about the rock of the Kaabaa. Thanks for that piece.


  5. “Look for video #783 too on the same site.

    More depressing statement here: “She has received death threats, naturally.” What kind of world we are living in?

    on March 12th, 2006 at 9:19 am from Ashish Gupta

    Same world where you challange holcaust and get threats also. Same kinda world you know…


  6. Atanu:

    Happy with the net that I found your site. Great deal of growing concern in Southern California re growing boldness of our domestic Jihadists. We hope to bring Dr. Sultan to several local campuses shortly.


  7. Dear Dr Wafa,

    Your speech is beautiful and very clarifying for most of us that did not have a clear perspective on this conflict.

    The most important thing that is needed is to open the eyes of muslims to the truth you are speaking. So even if you are attacked by radicals your view should prevail. It is not helpful for perople to see you as antimuslim, since I assume there must be very good things within the muslim teachings too.

    I believe you should target exclusively the teachings and/or the interpretation of the teachings that call for the destruction or animosity against those who do not believe in Islam.
    We should go for the ideologies that allow us to understand that we are all humans living together within this small planet and we need to help each other regardless of our faith.

    We are born humans first, and then some atach or are attached to a religious tradition. Our religions at different times have “convinced” us that we are first jewish, than human, christians than human, muslims than human, and loosing the perspective of our own existence we have swallowed that lie.
    We are All, first humans and we have that in common. Thank you for expressing so clearly, corageously and beautifuly our human truth.

    I was brought up as christian, and we christians used the same ideas during the crusades and the Inquisition times, to kill and destroy people and to acquire political power and domination over people´s minds. So we do know of that route and where it leads. I believe it is a stage of thought that we humans need to outgrow. It is a very dangerous stage of growth, very much like the destructiveness of adolescence that many people go through. I believe humanity is being forced to outgrow its adolescence and become adults as a planet, responsible for self and helping each other.

    Your work and that kind of work is essential to have access to a future as humans.

    My suggestion is, please do not let anybody label you as antimuslim, for your message will be weakened that way. Be very clear you are not antimuslim but pro human and proinclusion of every ideology that does not threat other humans as their basis of thought. Glorify the beauty part of islam thought so the muslims can hear you and understand your message, and be very strong as you have shown you are against ANY ideology that calls for hate and destruction of other human beings whoever they may be.

    Thanks again for evrything you are doing for us humans.

    Much Love,

    Sergio Orozco.


  8. Surely Islam will awaken one day to realize it has done nothing of value for this world or the people in it. But, maybe not.

    There is something fundamentally wrong with a religion that teaches its followers to kill those who will not bow to its demands.

    Thank you, Wafa Sultan.

    Mr. Cotton, USA


  9. Wafa speaks truth, a truth that needs to be embraced – regardless of the messenger or impact editing.

    The empowerment of Muslim women will be what changes the overt hostility within the Muslim faith. To deny the hatred and hostility ingrained in the Muslim faith is to turn a blind eye to what you know in your heart.

    It is the truth of Wafas’ words – each and every one – that must be contemplated. I ask for introspection and evaluation. Find peace with them, even if you disagree.

    Humility seems lacking in Muslim men. Compassion towards non-Muslims seems to be non-existant, or at best, superficial.

    Observations from a well traveled U.S. citizen. More than a little agnostic.


  10. Muslims, by and large , assert that Islam is a religion of peace. Most ordinary Muslims are perfectly peaceloving people too. Almost all swear by the inviolability of the dictates of the Quran and its divine origin. Yet this holy book contains numerous exhortations to condemn people of other faiths and discriminate against them. There are explicit orders to shun them and treat them as inferior citizens and even kill them. How does a Muslim defend these Quranic injunctions? Or is it that nobody really reads the Quran?
    Similarly, the Prophets life according to Muslim holy texts has several instances of war and mass murder not to speak of rape and pillage of vanquished enemies. Does the average Muslim stand by these holy texts? If they are true is the Prophets personality worthy of emulation?


  11. Anyone notice the really disturbing issue here? Aside from the fact that what we have here is a dialogue on Islam as it is practiced today, the two people who are trying to address the issue, its impact on women and try and do something about it are women!

    Not even a single male is trying to at least talk with them about it, help them or even trying to analyze the issue. They are not getting stoned, they are not being asked to cover up, so they do nothing? What crap?

    Sure, there might be a lot of problems and most people might not be comfortable with talking about the tenets of Islam or with changing the Quran. But don’t tell me that all male Muslims are happy with existing practices that “allow” beating women and stoning them.

    Where does it say that the empowerment of Muslim women has to be undertaken only by Muslim women?


  12. islam relegion basically build on wrong bases.. even al aqsa was built on others relegious site. then we see that all what she said is true.. specially the theory of occupied the others. the theory of unequalizm between the two genders.. they built. the theory of killing ppl for the name of god they built… what else… soooo many other unlogical matters that was serving only one thing.. mohammedddd… this other side of evil….

    regards… druze woman


  13. Good and evil have different meaning for you and for a muslim. They see good and evil in the context of Haram and Hallal ( forbidden & allowed ). Murder and violence done in the name of Allah are OK, it pleases him.They interpret the kindness of the westerners towards them as weakness. They immigrate and take full advantage of the benefit available to them and do not become grateful. They believe everything you as a non-believer have, belongs to them and you are merely an usurper of the gifts of Allah destine only for his believers.


  14. I would love to have an opportunity to shake the hand of this grand lady, Dr. Wafa Sultan. She is, indeed, a heroine. I pray the sacrifice of safety and security she has made, will pay off. I have many friends (Muslim, Jewish, and Christian) that applaud her statements, and her courage. Thank you, Dr. Sultan, and may God keep you safe, and let you see the results of your work.


  15. A woman of great courage with the brains and inside knolwedge to know what she is talking about. As she rightly says the Jew don’t go round blowing inercent children up in the name of thier god so why should Muslims


  16. i invite all people who gave comments to visit these sites and spread them to all especially indians.


  17. Anas ibn Malik said, “The Prophet said, ‘The time of the Dajjal will be
    years of confusion. People will believe a liar, and disbelieve one who
    tells the truth. People will distrust one who is trustworthy, and trust
    one who is treacherous; and the Ruwaybidah will have a say.’ Someone
    asked, ‘Who are the Ruwaybidah?’ He said, ‘Those who rebel against Allah
    and will have a say in general affairs.'” (Ahmad.)

    May Peace and Blessing of allah be on mohammed the seal of the prophets.
    may the curse of allah be on his enemys.


  18. Wafa Sultan for president (US)!

    What a wonder this woman is, and what a marvel that the Internet can span a million minds within days! More then Bush and all the other “true believers” and their guns and religious fervor, the Internet (and minds like Wafa Sultan) will set the world free!


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