On this date in 1958, Wafa Sultan was born in Banias, Syria. Sultan received her degree in medicine at the University of Aleppo, where she says she lost her faith in Islam after seeing one of her professors gunned down by the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1989, Sultan and her husband immigrated to Los Angeles, Calif. with their children. Since then, Sultan has written essays in Arabic critical of Islam, some published on the Islanmic reform website Annaqed (The Critic). In 2005, Sultan gained notoriety for her appearance on Al Jazeera debating a Muslim cleric. She questioned the teachings of Islam, saying “Why does a young Muslim man, in the prime of life, with a full life ahead, go and blow himself up? 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.” (Translation from the original Arabic found in The New York Times.) Sultan continues to be outspoken in her criticism of Islam, with further appearances on Al Jazeera and CNN. In 2009, Sultan published her first book in English, A God Who Hates: The Courageous Woman Who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks Out Against the Evils of Islam. In 2006, FFRF awarded her the Freethought Heroine Award.
"I receive too many emails from women in the Islamic world, telling me: 'Go ahead, we are behind you,' but unfortunately they're afraid for their lives."
—Wafa Sultan, speaking to FFRF's 2006 Annual Convention, accepting the Freethought Heroine Award
Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski; Photo by Brent Nicastro
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