Reformist or opportunist, Sultan continues to enjoy the spotlight as she routinely figures prominently as a guest speaker at many functions and fundraisers across the country. As her fame grows, so do her admirers and detractors.
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Halabi alleges that the Sultans lived in dire poverty. "Their rent was over $1,000 per month and Moufid was only making $800," he said. Dr. Wafa Sultan was forced to rent out a room in her apartment and work at a pizza parlor in Norwalk, Calif. where a personal friend used to pick her up and drop her off daily. This same friend used to help the Sultans out with groceries and occasionally loaned them money just so they could make it through the month. "It was
a serious struggle," Halabi recalled. "The Sultans lived hand to mouth for years on end." Further, Halabi said that at no point during the period he knew the family did Sultan ever discuss religion, politics or any topic relevant to her current activities. "She is a smart woman, articulate and forceful, but she never meddled in religion or politics to the extent she is doing now," Halabi said.
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InFocus also found out that the web site called Annaqed (www.annaqed.com) she supposedly wrote for before being noticed by Al-Jazeera Television is not an "Islamic reform Web Site" as was reported in the New York Times article, but rather an Arab nationalist blog run by a Syrian Christian who defines it as being "in line with Christian morality and principles." The site is also replete with anti-Muslim writings.
Sultan’s detractors include not only Muslims but members of the Jewish community as well. In an op-ed piece published in the Los Angeles Times (June 25, 2006) and titled "Islam’s Ann Coulter," Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, who attended a fundraiser for a local Jewish organization where Sultan was a speaker, wrote, "The more Sultan talked, the more evident it became that progress in the Muslim world was not her interest.... She never alluded to any healthy, peaceful Islamic alternative."
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As for the Sultans’ financial troubles, Halabi told InFocus that ever since Dr. Sultan gained notoriety those troubles are a thing of the past. "She bought a house for herself and bought another for her son," Halabi said. "She also bought two smog-check stations, one for her husband and another for her son," he added. When asked about the source of her material well-being, Halabi was unsure.
As to the reasons that may have pushed Sultan to be so outspoken and vocal against Islam in a post-9/11 world, Halabi sympathetically remarked, "Poverty. It drives people to sell their soul."
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