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.
Sultan could not have spoken any clearer about the religion that midwives terrorism. In a previous appearance on the station she had come out of the blocks with this:
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’s thus of special significance that members of the American news media—not Al-Jazeera—have distorted what Sultan has said, introducing their bias into her unambiguous words. Equally intriguing is the fact that Al-Jazeera—not the American Fourth Estate—introduced Sultan to the world.
At the request of her Al-Jazeera host, Sultan proceeded to explain the origins of the “clash of civilizations” coinage. In sonorous Arabic, a salve to Western ears, which have become accustomed to associating the language with faces twisted in rage, threatening blood and fire, she explained that:
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.
In a subsequent interview, she spoke as plainly, stating that “our people are hostages to our own beliefs and teachings.” She herself was “questioning every single teaching of our holy book.”
If this was insufficiently forthright, an earlier Al-Jazeera interview certainly was not:
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].
Still, “ignorant people” will be ignorant. The New York Times modified what Sultan had said. Duly, Mahdi John M. Broder “reported” that “Dr. Sultan bitterly criticized the Muslim clerics, holy warriors and political leaders who she believes have distorted the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran for 14 centuries” [Emphasis added].
Sultan said nothing of the sort. Not a murmur did she utter about a noble religion that had been kidnapped by crazies.
Bin Laden, the genocidal Janjawiid of Darfur, the Saudi religious police (the Mutawaa’in) which barricaded girls in a burning school because their heads were immodestly uncovered (headgear incinerated, presumably, by the fire); 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.
Or so says Sultan.
The LA Times’ Islamic advocate, Teresa Watanabe, got Sultan’s message loud and clear: “Islam is fatally flawed.” To which the correspondent responded by deriding the psychiatrist: Sultan was no longer a Muslim, had “never been connected with progressive Islamic groups and does not know the writings of Islam’s most respected voices of reform,” she carped.
The little woman was out of line—Sultan had failed to defer to authority, and had offered up her own independent analysis instead. And she was unaffiliated with any Muslim organization. In short, an individualist who swims against the current. Where is a burka when you need one!
Hussam Eyloush of the Council on Islamic Relations, a shady outfit masquerading as moderate, was one of many Muslim representatives galvanized by the lickspittle media to put Sultan in her place.
At first, Eyloush smeared Sultan with the shopworn “Islamophobic” smear. He then further discounted her by telling CNN correspondent Chris Lawrence that “reform is alive and well within Islam, but it will only happen by those from within Islam and not those who hate Islam.”
Lawrence, every bit as bright as Broder, disregarded Sultan’s words, choosing to regurgitate what the “moderates” had fed him. Sultan was saying nothing new: “stop the suicide bombings and allow more rights for women,” he fudged fecklessly, adding that she had compared “Muslim suicide bombers to the Jews who survived the holocaust.”
We can’t expect CNN reporters to be burdened by fact, now can we?
Sultan’s message is seismic—it departs radically from the warmed-over fare “moderates” have been dishing out to dhimmis in-the-making. She said the following to the cleric whose clock she cleaned: “you can believe in stones, as long as you don’t throw them at me. You are free to worship whoever you want, but other people’s beliefs are not your concern …These are personal matters that do not concern you.”
Her take on the Jews vis-à-vis CNN’s sainted suicide bombers was also almost unheard of hitherto. I can see why the network’s apostles of Islam felt obliged to distort the following:
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.
For my money, if Al-Jazeera continues to provoke viewers with the likes of Sultan, I’ll be signing on when they start to transmit here. It’s a whole lot better than enduring Chris Matthews’ incestuous love-ins with “The ‘Hardball’ hotshots.” That’s when MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson, Joe Scarborough, and Rita Cosby aka “Throaty McHuskington,” who each torture us independently during their respective programs, combine to amplify the unedifying effects.
As for the girls at CNN—Paula Zahn, Kyra Phillips, and Anderson Cooper appear indifferent to professional competition. Edgy reporting elsewhere never rubs off on this crew. They prefer to kvetch interminably about colorectal, breast, and lung cancer; anorexia nervosa, and Katrina. In this stream of soporific, soft-news stories, Wafa Sultan is indeed a rarity.
© 2006 By Ilana Mercer