A Syrian-born psychiatrist argues that “Muslims hate their women…because their god does.”
In 2006, Sultan gave an interview on Al-Jazeera in which she condemned militant Islam as barbaric and predicted its eventual demise. The author writes that she received death threats in response, while Muslim moderates praised her candor. Her first book is a stew of insightful critique and questionable generalizations, informed by her bitter memories of her upbringing in Syria, where, she says, religion sanctioned the treatment of women as little better than dogs. Her psychiatrist’s diagnosis is that Islam’s birth in a harsh desert environment, where survival was a constant struggle, imbued its adherents with a primal, despairing anger that they’ve never discarded. She’s not the first to argue that the refusal to separate church and state in Muslim countries is a fundamental reason for their political repression and poor living conditions. Nor can her criticism of misogyny in some of those countries be disputed. Yet she drops broad bombshells about Muslims that are sure to be highly controversial. Sultan criticizes Colin Powell because he sees nothing wrong with electing a Muslim president, even though “Islam is not just a religion: It is a political doctrine that imposes itself by force.” Though she stresses that she has no “anti-Muslim prejudice,” she adds that “Muslims...can be either good or bad, and the best among them do not act in accordance with the teachings of their religion.” The author also claims that no Muslim, regardless of education or professed tolerance, “can free himself completely of his suspicions when circumstances bring him into contact with members of these two religions [Christianity and Judaism].” Critics may argue that it’s the intent of the believer, not the belief, that matters.
Forged in justifiable anger, this flamethrower of a book will hold the reader’s attention with its heat, but it occasionally singes targets indiscriminately.