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For Muslim Who Says Violence Destroys Islam, Violent Threats

docta seuss

TRIBE Member
NY Times


Today, thanks to an unusually blunt and provocative interview on Al Jazeera television on Feb. 21, she is an international sensation, hailed as a fresh voice of reason by some, and by others as a heretic and infidel who deserves to die.

In the interview, which has been viewed on the Internet more than a million times and has reached the e-mail of hundreds of thousands around the world, 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.

She said the world's Muslims, whom she compares unfavorably with the Jews, have descended into a vortex of self-pity and violence.
Dr. Sultan said the world was not witnessing a clash of religions or cultures, but a battle between modernity and barbarism, a battle that the forces of violent, reactionary Islam are destined to lose.

In response, clerics throughout the Muslim world have condemned her, and her telephone answering machine has filled with dark threats. But Islamic reformers have praised her for saying out loud, in Arabic and on the most widely seen television network in the Arab world, what few Muslims dare to say even in private.

"I believe our people are hostages to our own beliefs and teachings," she said in an interview this week in her home in a Los Angeles suburb.
Dr. Sultan, who is 47, wears a prim sweater and skirt, with fleece-lined slippers and heavy stockings. Her eyes and hair are jet black and her modest manner belies her intense words: "Knowledge has released me from this backward thinking. Somebody has to help free the Muslim people from these wrong beliefs."

Perhaps her most provocative words on Al Jazeera were those comparing how the Jews and Muslims have reacted to adversity. Speaking of the Holocaust, she said, "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."
She went on, "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."
She concluded, "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."
Her views caught the ear of the American Jewish Congress, which has invited her to speak in May at a conference in Israel. "We have been discussing with her the importance of her message and trying to devise the right venue for her to address Jewish leaders," said Neil B. Goldstein, executive director of the organization.

She is probably more welcome in Tel Aviv than she would be in Damascus. Shortly after the broadcast, clerics in Syria denounced her as an infidel. One said she had done Islam more damage than the Danish cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad, a wire service reported.
DR. SULTAN is "working on a book that — if it is published — it's going to turn the Islamic world upside down."
"I have reached the point that doesn't allow any U-turn. I have no choice. I am questioning every single teaching of our holy book."
The working title is, "The Escaped Prisoner: When God Is a Monster."

Dr. Sultan grew up in a large traditional Muslim family in Banias, Syria, a small city on the Mediterranean about a two-hour drive north of Beirut. Her father was a grain trader and a devout Muslim, and she followed the faith's strictures into adulthood.

But, she said, her life changed in 1979 when she was a medical student at the University of Aleppo, in northern Syria. At that time, the radical Muslim Brotherhood was using terrorism to try to undermine the government of President Hafez al-Assad. Gunmen of the Muslim Brotherhood burst into a classroom at the university and killed her professor as she watched, she said.
"They shot hundreds of bullets into him, shouting, 'God is great!' " she said. "At that point, I lost my trust in their god and began to question all our teachings. It was the turning point of my life, and it has led me to this present point. I had to leave. I had to look for another god."
She and her husband, who now goes by the Americanized name of David, laid plans to leave for the United States. Their visas finally came in 1989, and the Sultans and their two children (they have since had a third) settled in with friends in Cerritos, Calif., a prosperous bedroom community on the edge of Los Angeles County.

After a succession of jobs and struggles with language, Dr. Sultan has completed her American medical licensing, with the exception of a hospital residency program, which she hopes to do within a year. David operates an automotive-smog-check station. They bought a home in the Los Angeles area and put their children through local public schools. All are now American citizens.
BUT even as she settled into a comfortable middle-class American life, Dr. Sultan's anger burned within. She took to writing, first for herself, then for an Islamic reform Web site called Annaqed (The Critic), run by a Syrian expatriate in Phoenix.

An angry essay on that site by Dr. Sultan about the Muslim Brotherhood caught the attention of Al Jazeera, which invited her to debate an Algerian cleric on the air last July.
In the debate, she questioned the religious teachings that prompt young people to commit suicide in the name of God. "Why does a young Muslim man, in the prime of life, with a full life ahead, go and blow himself up?" she asked. "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."

Her remarks set off debates around the globe and her name began appearing in Arabic newspapers and Web sites. But her fame grew exponentially when she appeared on Al Jazeera again on Feb. 21, an appearance that was translated and widely distributed by the Middle East Media Research Institute, known as Memri.
Memri said the clip of her February appearance had been viewed more than a million times.
"The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilizations," Dr. Sultan said. "It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality."
She said she no longer practiced Islam. "I am a secular human being," she said.

The other guest on the program, identified as an Egyptian professor of religious studies, Dr. Ibrahim al-Khouli, asked, "Are you a heretic?" He then said there was no point in rebuking or debating her, because she had blasphemed against Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and the Koran.
Dr. Sultan said she took those words as a formal fatwa, a religious condemnation. Since then, she said, she has received numerous death threats on her answering machine and by e-mail.
One message said: "Oh, you are still alive? Wait and see." She received an e-mail message the other day, in Arabic, that said, "If someone were to kill you, it would be me."

Dr. Sultan said her mother, who still lives in Syria, is afraid to contact her directly, speaking only through a sister who lives in Qatar. She said she worried more about the safety of family members here and in Syria than she did for her own.
"I have no fear," she said. "I believe in my message. It is like a million-mile journey, and I believe I have walked the first and hardest 10 miles."
 
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Genesius

TRIBE Member
She is certainly trying to evoke a response. And good for her. Unfortunately, and obviously I don't think her message will be well received. Your right about the lines being drawn in the muslim world. I think it will be brutal and painful at first, like trying to remove an infestestaion from the body, but in the end it will be better. Better for peace loving Muslims anyway, and peaceful people in general. I wonder if the response of the militant clerics is due to fear. Fear of losing their power? I'm not sure how the power structure works in a devout Islamic culture, but I believe the outright defiance and desperation shown by these clerics must be a branch of some deadly root. Usually those behaviours come from fear and not reason...what are they afraid of?
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Genesius said:
I think it will be brutal and painful at first, like trying to remove an infestation from the body...
I'm trying to digest this, the way I might digest an infestation of locusts. It's not going down very well, Genesius.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
"I believe our people are hostages to our own beliefs and teachings,"

Your people are hostage to a political ruling class and a religous ruling class neither of which values opinions or open discussion. The more strict the ruling and the political class the more backwards the nation for they fear any education that does not include indoctrination.

Its great to have faith and to believe in god and to have a community based on religion. At a certain point however yiour faith and belief cannot be caused by it being the only subject your are educated in.
 

Genesius

TRIBE Member
~atp~ said:
I'm trying to digest this, the way I might digest an infestation of locusts. It's not going down very well, Genesius.
Infestation was the wrong word to use. I was going to say tumor, but that analogy is overused. Anyway, you get the idea. Good old atp, can always be counted on for a post critique. :)
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Genesius said:
Unfortunately, and obviously I don't think her message will be well received.


See and this I believe is the ultimate root of the problem! We have a group of cultures that are no longer allowed to question anything without fear of arbitrary prosecution.

The middle east is living in the dark ages by choice, but nobody is allowed to question this choice. Many of the sciences that originated in the middle east are no longer taught to students. As we have evolved from an industrial revolution into an information revolution along with globalization we are watching them still fight against the industrial revolution.
 

why not

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
See and this I believe is the ultimate root of the problem! We have a group of cultures that are no longer allowed to question anything without fear of arbitrary prosecution.

The middle east is living in the dark ages by choice, but nobody is allowed to question this choice. Many of the sciences that originated in the middle east are no longer taught to students. As we have evolved from an industrial revolution into an information revolution along with globalization we are watching them still fight against the industrial revolution.
it's important to remember that it's not all muslims and the entire middle east that is fighting against change - this is a conflict between muslims, between moderates and fundamentalists. not so different from the conflicts inside the catholic church, except the stakes are higher.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
why not said:
it's important to remember that it's not all muslims and the entire middle east that is fighting against change - this is a conflict between muslims, between moderates and fundamentalists. not so different from the conflicts inside the catholic church, except the stakes are higher.


Alright name 5 moderate nonfundametalist muslim nations that offer universal education and have unemployment below %25.
 

why not

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
Alright name 5 moderate nonfundametalist muslim nations that offer universal education and have unemployment below %25.
that's what i mean about the stakes being higher.
 

Colm

TRIBE Member
why not said:
it's important to remember that it's not all muslims and the entire middle east that is fighting against change - this is a conflict between muslims, between moderates and fundamentalists. not so different from the conflicts inside the catholic church, except the stakes are higher.
The CC is currently home to a debate between the orthodox, the ultramontane, and the liberal. In fact, the 'Catholic fundamentalists' are a miniscule number in comparison to the orthodox and the liberal groups, who all use the computer & the podium anyway, rather than the gun and the bomb.
 
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why not

TRIBE Member
Colm said:
The CC is currently home to a debate between the orthodox, the ultramontane, and the liberal. In fact, the 'Catholic fundamentalists' are a miniscule number in comparison to the orthodox and the liberal groups, who all use the computer & the podium anyway, rather than the gun and the bomb.
let's not forget that there have been high profile violent catholic organisations in the very recent past.
let's also not forget all the weirdo fringe christian groups that have bombed abortion clinics among other actions that would be described as terrorism.

obviously there's a big difference between the amount of political power that extremist muslim groups enjoy in some parts of the world, but bush wouldn't have been elected if not for the support of christian groups that i would characterise as equally backward.

all i'm getting at is that it's extremely important not to get tricked into thinking that this is about muslims against the world - it's more subtle than that, and there are many variations of what it means to be muslim.
too often islam is characterised as being way more fucked up than other religions, which implies notions of all muslims that are definitely unfounded.
i've yet to meet a muslim that i would call extremist, although some of the older ones i would call conservative, but no more so than my christian grandparents of the same age.
 
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Aeryanna

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
Alright name 5 moderate nonfundametalist muslim nations that offer universal education and have unemployment below %25.
Kuwait: Universal basic education - unemployment rate: 2.2%
Qatar: Universal basic education - unemployment rate: 2.9%
UAE: Universal basic education - unemployment rate: 2.4%
Jordan: Universal basic education - unemployment rate: 19%
Indonesia: Universal basic education* - unemployment rate: 10%

Those numbers are from the CIA world factbook

*Indonesia has universal basic education covering primary education and the lower secondary levels. Their target of getting a complete infrastructure in place by 2015 would have been lower if they weren't hit by the economic crisis.

p.s -If you would like to strike Indonesia from that list, put Bahrain in its place (unemployment rate: 14%)
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Aeryanna said:
Kuwait: Universal basic education - unemployment rate: 2.2%
Qatar: Universal basic education - unemployment rate: 2.9%
UAE: Universal basic education - unemployment rate: 2.4%
Jordan: Universal basic education - unemployment rate: 19%
Indonesia: Universal basic education* - unemployment rate: 10%

Those numbers are from the CIA world factbook

*Indonesia has universal basic education covering primary education and the lower secondary levels. Their target of getting a complete infrastructure in place by 2015 would have been lower if they weren't hit by the economic crisis.

p.s -If you would like to strike Indonesia from that list, put Bahrain in its place (unemployment rate: 14%)


Nice!! But lets trade Bahrain for Indonesia based simply on the fact that Indonesia is basically at war with itself and has gross human rights violations.
 

Aeryanna

TRIBE Member
^^^
Alright, Oman -Universal basic education, unemployment rate: 15% :)

My point is, don't be so quick to pass judgement on *all* muslim countries.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
why not said:
let's not forget that there have been high profile violent catholic organisations in the very recent past.
let's also not forget all the weirdo fringe christian groups that have bombed abortion clinics among other actions that would be described as terrorism.

obviously there's a big difference between the amount of political power that extremist muslim groups enjoy in some parts of the world, but bush wouldn't have been elected if not for the support of christian groups that i would characterise as equally backward.

all i'm getting at is that it's extremely important not to get tricked into thinking that this is about muslims against the world - it's more subtle than that, and there are many variations of what it means to be muslim.
too often islam is characterised as being way more fucked up than other religions, which implies notions of all muslims that are definitely unfounded.
i've yet to meet a muslim that i would call extremist, although some of the older ones i would call conservative, but no more so than my christian grandparents of the same age.
true enough and this example has been touted before as indicative of western culture's failure to place terrorism in context.

they are both great examples of terrorism for sure, but the big difference is this:

abortion clinic bombings hit abortion clinics, or targeted abortion doctors. any deaths that occured by people in the area were simply collateral damage to the intended target of the clinic, the doctor or patients. terrorism of late targets public places specficially in order to inflict damage, there is by right no collateral damage in crashing a plane into the world trade centre. all damage is intentioned.

abortion terrrorism is attacking a specific target, while most terrorism from extremist islamic groups targets a much broader issue of state/international controls or perceived subjugation. most abortion doctor killers did not belong to massive underground networks who's goals were to subvert the dominant world powers.

anti-abortion terrorism were carried out by peopel claiming to be "christians". after investigations in to the crimes there was never an example of weapons being stored or bombs built in local chrsitian community centres or churches or of recruitment of youth from early on in schools which repeatedly preach or glorify those who have killed abortion doctors in the past. those who comit these crimes were never portrayed in the media as having no other course in life.

there was never a large leader of a church publically approving of these crimes, the pope has unevivocally stated these bombings are wrong, there was no real legitimate academics steeped in christian theology on mainstream media entertaining the possibility that these criminals will now go to heaven as martyrs.

while the popes muslim equivilant so to speak, the imman of the grand mosque of mecca has publically stated he wishes to rid the mid-east of jews, that those who fight and die at the hands of jews or americans are martrys and the expulsion of all non-muslims from the mid-east, specifically the Saudi Peninsula.

its not to say one is worse than the other. or that one is a unique product of any particular religion, but the differences warrant deeper observation, its not a linear comparison.

aereyanna, i always value your opinion but any sort of number showing stats for unemployment is shaky at best. there are significant sections of places lke indonesia that are 3rd world or little better, do you really trust the stats coming from these governments in the first place.

i think they say india has about %15 unemployment, that is laughable ater even topical study or experience of the region. what constitutes employemnt etc etc make these claims suspicious at best in my mind.
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Aeryanna said:
^^^
Alright, Oman -Universal basic education, unemployment rate: 15% :)

My point is, don't be so quick to pass judgement on *all* muslim countries.

Oh I'll be commenting on your selections shortly!!! These are the best and they are still laughable by any western standard. Non of them have a free press, none of them have a respectable human rights record, none of them have elected representation and the vast majority of them do not allow any rights to half of there populations.

I just have a few things to do first!
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Lets take Kuwait for instance. There are 2.5 million people in Kuwait. of them about 350,000 have the right to vote, and 900,000 have legal citizenship. If your not a citizen you don't get the right to vote and you don't get an education. You also don't get reported in the official stats!!. Almost 2/3 of the population of the country aren't citizens and the vast majority of them were born in the country.

All newspapers in Kuwait were established with a "princely decree". For the past 30 years there have been demands to allow the establishment of other newspapers, but with no response from government. All of the non english television stations are owned directly by the royal family.


Really think about this one for a second this is a tiny rich country where more than half its population isn't even considered to be human.
 

Aeryanna

TRIBE Member
I'm simply addressing your question, which was and I quote: "Alright name 5 moderate nonfundametalist muslim nations that offer universal education and have unemployment below %25"

If you would like to have a debate about free press that even non-muslim countries such as China and Russia don't have or a clean human rights record which even the US lacks, then that's a slightly different topic and I'll leave you to it.
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Qatar is also a neat one, first its TINY!!! less than 1 million people actually live in the country. Incredibly rich with oil and natural gas Qatar has really moved forward in the last 10 years. Women although not having the right to vote are allowed to dress as they choose and there is a very large freedom of the press.

No voting mind you, just a feudal kind who overthrough his father for power. Very few rights and the head of the state is also a religous head.

Still for about 900,000 muslims its a very nice place!
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Aeryanna said:
I'm simply addressing your question, which was and I quote: "Alright name 5 moderate nonfundametalist muslim nations that offer universal education and have unemployment below %25"

If you would like to have a debate about free press that even non-muslim countries such as China and Russia don't have or a clean human rights record which even the US lacks, then that's a slightly different topic and I'll leave you to it.

Fair enough but you were forced to list basically 5 of the smallest countries in the world and even then they're somewhat dubious. Jordan is a really tough one to defend and there unemployment numbers don;t include the millions of refugees that have been in there country for there entire lives.

I think its time to stop pretending that these countries aren't a bunch of thug run mafia dictatorships.
 
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