Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rebutting the Saudi Smear Campaign Against Wafa Sultan

With the release of Wafa Sultan's book, A God Who Hates, the various Saudi front organizations have sprung into action doing their best to smear her reputation.

It is of course completely unsurprising that the agents of a kingdom that despises women and treats them like cattle would be furious at criticism of Islam coming from... a woman.

Ever since Wafa Sultan first came to the public's attention by defiantly challenging a male cleric and demanding her right to speak, she has been the target of repeated death threats and slander.

So it is also completely unsurprising that those same Saudi front groups would then use transparent lies and smears to attack her now. But their smear campaign reveals more about them than it does about Wafa Sultan.

First up is the claim that Wafa Sultan lied about ever being a Muslim, because she was an Alawi Muslim. This is a bizarre claim that only fanatical Sunni Wahhabi groups could make with a straight face. To argue that Sultan did not grow up as a Muslim because she grew up as an Alawi Muslim, is akin to a Catholic arguing that a Protestant is not a Christian and vice versa.

The other half of this claim is the argument that since she does not currently believe in Islam and the Koran, she is somehow unqualified to talk about what is wrong with Islam.

A position that would disqualify every Scientology critic on the planet and every dissident who escapes from an oppressive regime. Wafa Sultan's qualifications to talk about what is wrong with Islam come from growing and living as a Muslim under Islam. As well as her study of what is wrong with Islam from a cultural, religious and psychological standpoint.

A corollary to this is the claim that Syria was secular and therefore Wafa Sultan did not grow up living in an Islamic society. While Syria under Assad was more secular than say Saudi Arabia, it was still a Muslim country, in the same way that the similarly Baathist Iraq was Muslim.

Aside from small minorities, virtually every Syrian is Muslim and mosque attendance is normative. The state funds mosques and Islamic education is part of the regular curriculum. Islamic norms are thoroughly integrated within the national culture.

For a snapshot of that, here's an excerpt from an academic paper on Syria's educational system

Islamic education in Syrian schools is traditional, rigid, and Sunni. The Ministry of Education makes no attempt to inculcate notions of tolerance or respect for religious traditions other than Sunni Islam. Christianity is the one exception to this rule. Indeed, all religious groups other than Christians are seen to be enemies of Islam, who must be converted or fought against. The Syrian government teaches school children that over half of the world’s six billion inhabitants will go to hell and must be actively fought by Muslims...

The government is to be an Islamic State without separation of church and state. The student is constantly reminded that the Islamic state is a divine order whose wisdom, justice, and laws are imposed by God. The chapter of the twelfth grade text entitled, “The System of Government in Islam,” concludes with the following sentences:

There's your "secular" Syria right there. That's the "secular" Syria that Wafa Sultan grew up in.

Secondly, there's the claim that Wafa Sultan is a "turncoat" who has deliberately sought fame in order to get rich. As In Focus, a CAIR front magazine writes;

"As for the Sultans’ financial troubles, Halabi told InFocus that ever since Dr. Sultan gained notoriety those troubles are a thing of the past. "She bought a house for herself and bought another for her son," ... When asked about the source of her material well-being, Halabi was unsure.

As to the reasons that may have pushed Sultan to be so outspoken and vocal against Islam in a post-9/11 world, Halabi sympathetically remarked, "Poverty. It drives people to sell their soul."

The "mysterious source" of their material well-being is that Wafa Sultan was able to become a practicing doctor in the United States. Doctors in the United States tend to have not particularly mysterious sources of material well-being. And whatever money she has made from her speaking fees is hardly anything compared to the security costs of regularly dealing with death threats from Muslim.

Thirdly, let's discuss the In Focus magazine hit piece, Wafa Sultan Reformist or opportunist? that is the source of many of the smears aimed at Wafa Sultan.

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