Wafa Sultan (Arabic: وفاء سلطان; born June 14, 1958, Baniyas, Syria) is a medical doctor who trained as a psychiatrist in Syria, and an American author and critic of Muslim society and Islam.
Sultan was born into a large traditional Alawite Muslim family in Baniyas, Syria.
Although Sultan wanted to be a writer, and would have preferred to study Arabic literature, she studied at the medical faculty at the University of Aleppo due to pressure from her family, stating that she was shocked into secularism by the 1979 atrocities committed by Islamic extremists of the Muslim Brotherhood against innocent Syrians. She states that while she was a medical student, she witnessed the machine-gun assassination of her professor, Yusef al Yusef, an ophthalmologist from the university who was renowned outside Syria. “They shot hundreds of bullets into him, shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ ” 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 worked for four years as a psychiatrist in a hospital.
She, her teacher husband, and children immigrated to the United States in 1989, where she moved to Los Angeles, California and became a naturalized citizen. Initially she had to work as a cashier in a gas station and behind the counter in a pizza parlour, but found her treatment in these jobs better than as a medical professional in Syria. From the time of her arrival she begun to contribute articles to Arabic publications in the United States and published three books in Arabic.
Sultan became notable after the September 11, 2001 attacks for her participation in Middle East political debates, with Arabic essays that were circulated widely, and for television appearances on Al Jazeera and CNN in 2005.
On February 21, 2006, she took part in Al Jazeera’s weekly 45-minute discussion program The Opposite Direction. She spoke from Los Angeles, arguing with host Faisal al-Qassem and with Ibrahim Al-Khouli, a professor at Al-Azhar University in Cairo (Egypt), about Samuel P. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations theory. A six-minute composite video of her remarks was subtitled and widely circulated by MEMRI on blogs and through e-mail; The New York Times estimated that it has been seen at least one million times. In this video she criticised women’s situation in Muslim countries, Muslims for treating non-Muslims differently and for not recognizing the accomplishments of Jewish and other members of non-Muslim society while using their wealth and technology. The full transcript of the debate, which was made public later, also raised many online discussions.
Following her participation in founding of the Former Muslims United on October 13, 2009, Sultan released 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 October 2010 Sultan was called as an expert witness to give testimony at the Geert Wilders trial. There she confirmed that she had met Wilders several times in 2009, had seen his film Fitna, and in general agreed with his views about Islam.
On January 10, 2011, Sultan, opposing Ibrahim Ramey, appeared on the Russian television news show CrossTalk with host Peter Lavelle, where she stated: “I’m not against Muslims, I’m against Islam.”