WAFA SULTAN – on Al-Jazeera

Los Angeles Psychologist Wafa Sultan clashes with Algerian Islamist Ahmad bin Muhammad over Islamic Teachings and Terrorism

The following are excerpts from a debate between Wafa Sultan, a psychologist from Los Angeles and Dr. Ahmad Bin Muhammad, an Algerian professor of religious politics. Al-Jazeera TV aired this debate on July 26, 2005.

Wafa Sultan: Why does a young Muslim man, in the prime of life, with a full life ahead, go and blow himself up? How and why does he blow himself up in a bus full of innocent passengers?

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.

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,” regardless of this verse’s interpretation, and regardless of the reasons it was conveyed or its time – you have made the first step towards creating a great terrorist…

Bin Muhammad: The guest from America asked how a young man could blow up a bus. If only she had asked how a president could blow up a peaceful nation in Iraq. How does a president help the arch-killer of occupied Palestine? Why doesn’t she ask from where Hitler was brought up – Hitler, who murdered 50 million innocent people. Why doesn’t she ask where the people who dropped two atom bombs on Japan were educated? Who killed three million innocent Vietnamese? Who annihilated the Indians? Who maintained imperialism to this day? Who waged the Spanish civil war, which exacted a toll of 600,000 in 36 months? Why don’t we ask these questions? Who has over 15,000 nuclear warheads – Muslims or the non-Muslims? The Muslims or the Americans? The Muslims or the Europeans? We want an answer. Where was Bush educated – if education is really what makes a person a criminal?…

Wafa Sultan: Murder is terrorism regardless of time or place, but when it is committed as a decree from Allah, this is another matter…

The Crusader wars about which the professor is talking – these wars came after the Islamic religious teachings, and as a response to these teachings. This is the law of action and reaction. The Islamic religious teachings have incited to the rejection of the other, to the denial of the other, and to the killing of the other. Have they not incited to the killing of Jews and Christians? If we had heard that a tribe in a distant corner of China has a holy book and religious teachings calling to kill Muslims – would the Muslims stand idly by in the face of such teachings?

The Crusader wars came after these Islamic religious teachings. When these Islamic teachings were delivered, America did not exist on the face of the earth, nor was Israel in Palestine…

Why doesn’t he talk about the Muslim conquests that preceded all the wars he is talking about? Why doesn’t he mention that when Tariq bin Ziyyad entered Andalusia with his armies, he said to his people: “The sea is behind you, and the enemy is in front”? How can you storm a peaceful country, and consider all its peaceful inhabitants to be your enemies, merely because you have the right to spread your religion? Should the religion be spread by the sword and through fighting?…

Bin Muhammad: Who invented slavery in recent centuries? Who colonized the other – us or them? Did Algeria colonize France, or vice versa? Did Egypt colonize England, or vice versa? We are the victims…

I am not saying that killing innocent people is nice. I say that all innocent people should be protected. But at the same time, we must start with the innocent among the Muslims. There are millions of innocent people among us, while the innocent among you – and innocent they are – number only dozens, hundreds, or thousands, at the most…

Wafa Sultan: Can you explain to me the killing of a hundred thousand children, women and men in Algeria, using the most abominable killing methods? Can you explain to me the killing of 15,000 Syrian civilians? Can you explain to me the abominable crime in the military artillery school in Aleppo? Can you explain the crime in Al-Asbaqiya neighborhood of Damascus, Syria? Can you explain the attack of the terrorists on the peaceful village of Al-Kisheh in Upper Egypt, and the massacre of 21 Coptic peasants? Can you explain to me what is going on in Indonesia, Turkey, and Egypt, even though these are Islamic countries which opposed the American intervention in Iraq, and which don’t have armies in Iraq, yet were not spared by the terrorists?

Can you explain these phenomena, which took place in Arab countries? Was all this revenge on America or Israel? Or were they merely to satisfy bestial wild instincts aroused in them by religious teachings, which incite to rejection of the other, to the killing of the other, and to the denial of the other. When Saddam Hussein buried 300,000 Shiites and Kurds alive, we did not hear a single Muslim protesting. Your silence served to acknowledge the legitimacy of these killings, didn’t it?…

What do you want from me? To speak evil of the American society? I’ve never said that America is the eternal city of Plato, but I did say it was the eternal city of Wafa Sultan. The idealism of American society was enough to allow me to realize my humanity. I came to this country with fear.

Bin Muhammad: Along with the Indians? Along with the Indians? What was left of the Indians? What do you have to say about the Indians?

Wafa Sultan: Christopher Columbus discovered American in 1492. America was founded in 1776, approximately 300 years later. You cannot blame America – as a constitution, a regime, and a state – for killing the Indians.

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