|Syrian Woman Speaks Out Against Religious Distortion
||[Mar. 20th, 2006|05:45 pm]
International News Blog
Recently, Syrian born L.A psychiatrist Dr. Wafa Sultan made an appearance on Al Jazeera television in which she denounced fourteen centuries of Muslims who have distorted the teachings and principles of Islam. Dr. Sultan’s criticisms center on violence that has taken place in the name of Islam, as well as how the teachings of Islam have become distorted over time. She takes an introspective approach to the problems within Islam today and believes that the true conflict is one of modernity vs. barbarism. She notes the incompatibility between an ancient mindset and a modern one and in optimistic about the future of her message, although it has provoked great negativity from some factions of the Islamic world community, even going so far as death threats. Though she is not universally welcomed by her own religious community, the Jewish community has reached out to her and has invited her to collaborate with them. This was inspired by several comparisons she had made between Muslims and Jews regarding their responses to adversity and oppression. |
This issue is indeed a slippery one and to be truthful at this point in time I can’t say that I have one concrete opinion of it. To see a strong Islamic woman in a political spotlight is one thing but also to see her given the chance to voice her opinions on the status of the core values Islam in today’s world on AL JAZEERA is extremely heartening to say the least. There are however, certain elements of this story which bother me. The first being her words on the subject of Jews. In her interview she compares modern day Muslims to Jews in that they both have descended into a vortex of self-pity and violence. My immediate response to this was a very shocked “…?!” Later she again compares Muslims to Jews, but this time puts Jews in a positive light saying:
The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling. 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. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them.
Though her message to Muslims is very inspiring and her respect for Jews is, well, surprising after that last comment (If you missed the gist of it before it was basically that Jews are whiny and mean.), she seems to be hiding pockets of misinformation. I believe that she has mistakenly categorized a more widespread issue of religious fundamentalism and idealistic extremism as a uniquely Muslim issue. The use of destruction and violent symbolism is a social pattern seen is many different cultures around the world as well as time periods (Let’s think back shall we? Burning crosses ring a bell? Can anyone think of a political leader being assassinated?)
Another comment that makes me wince with suspicion is the line “We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people.” (Before my response a note of disclaimer: Yes, I’m Jewish. No, I don’t think killing people is good.) Zionists in Israel have done their share of killing in protest, even killing on of their own prime ministers Yitzchak Rabin.
So in sum…I like most of what she’s saying but her self contradictions make me suspicious. Her motives seem to be honest and her goal is, I think, realistic.