Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Of Joseph Smith and Ergun Caner (Part 2)
07/03/2010 - James White
The Charge that He Could Speak Arabic When He Can’t.—He only claims to be able to speak Arabic the way most non-Arabic Muslims do. Although he was raised in Sweden by a Swedish mother, Ergun learned enough Arabic (as most Muslims do) to read the Qur’an and speak it in prayer.
Please compare this excuse with the reality of each of the clips in the following video. Caner directly claims the ability to speak Arabic, so as to be able to tell the story of Abraham and Isaac, for example, while at the Dome of the Rock. Is Geisler aware of these facts, or is he again just going on the basis of what Caner tells him (this list looks like it may well be an edited version of what Caner offered to the staff at Liberty back in April).
But notice something else: why does Geisler say Caner was raised in Sweden by a Swedish mother? Does this not contradict repeated public statements by Caner that he is 100% Turkish? And is this not acknowledgement that his repeated claims to have been raised in Turkey were, in fact, fallacious?
Finally, the vast majority of non-Arabic Muslims I know cannot read the Qur'an. At all. They learn the prayers by rote.
The Charges that He was not Turkish as He Claimed.--This stems from a confusion of his nationality and the country of his birth. Ergun was born in Sweden, but he was a Turkish citizen. According to Swedish law a child born in Sweden has the nationality of his father, and Ergun’s father was Turkish. Indeed, he traveled to Turkey with his father to establish his Turkish citizenship. When he came to America, he came as a Turkish citizen with a Turkish passport.
Confusion created by what? By Ergun Caner's own myth-making, of course! Ergun was born in Sweden alright, so, how does Dr. Geisler explain Caner's claim that he was born in Istanbul?
Has Norman Geisler even seen these videos? We do not know. He may well just be repeating Caner's own excuses. In any case, what evidence does Dr. Geisler offer in support of this new claim (I have never seen it made before, if someone else has, please let me know where), "Indeed, he traveled to Turkey with his father to establish his Turkish citizenship." When? For how long? Why would he have to do this in light of his own claims to have lived in Ankara and on the border of Turkey and Iraq? Are those lies, too? Here again, unlike Norman Geisler, I provide the documentation:
Coming to America, the only thing that I understood, I was fifteen when we came, the only thing - or - thirteen when we came, the only thing that I understood about American culture, I got from American television. And the only television that we were allowed to watch was the television that was - that passed the conscriptions of the censors in Turkey. I lived in Ankara, but then I lived toward the east for the most part of my life, on the Iraqi border." (source)
So which is it, Dr. Geisler? If what you are saying is true, then here are more "misstatements" on Ergun's part. But, they are clearly not misstatements, they are lies. This is what happens when you try to defend the indefensible.
The Charge that He was never trained in Jihad at a Muslim School.—The charges that he trained in a Sudanese or Lebanese School (Madrassa) are false and are based on wrongly assuming his statement of “Islamic youth jihad” was in reference to a specific terrorist organization. He trained in the one attached to his Mosque as all Muslim children do. And he was trained there in Jihad, as all the other children are—even those who never take up a gun.
Dr. Geisler, where was this madrassa? In Ohio? Where is your evidence of this? Would those who built that mosque confirm your statement? Remembering that Ergun Caner was not, in fact, raised in Sweden (contra Geisler's above statement), but in Ohio--is it Geisler's claim that the mosque in Ohio was training youth in jihad in the early 1970s?
The Charge that Ergun claimed he “Always Lived” in a Muslim Country before Coming to the US.—Although, the phrase “always lived” is not precise. There is no evidence of an evil intent to embellish here, as his critics say. True, Sweden was not a Muslim country, but he did live as a Muslim with a Muslim father while in Sweden. After all, Ergun’s father was from a Muslim country, Ergun was a citizen of a Muslim country, and he lived as a Muslim in Sweden. It would be an embellishment to say that if he was not a Muslim and not a citizen of a Muslim country.
Oh, I think the phrase "always lived" is very precise. Always is a good, clear word, isn't it? And in the context in which Caner made the statement, he was explaining why he thought Christians hated him, because, he claimed, he had always lived in a majority Muslim country. That is why the folks at the Baptist Church were such a surprise to him, since, living in a majority Muslim country (Turkey) he had been around so few Christians. But, we have already seen that Geisler has moved Ergun to Sweden to be raised now, when the reality is that he was raised in central Ohio, where, in the early 1970s, there were lots of Christians, were there not? See the parallel once again to Joseph Smith and his First Vision story? By isolating statements from their contexts you can provide a new context and meaning that completely changes the obvious original intent of the author/speaker. Mormons defend Smith's many wild statements this way, and now Norman Geisler has taken a page from their playbook (or, he has rashly agreed to promote Caner's own self-defense, which, to be honest, I think may well be the case, though I cannot know). Remember, Caner came to the US as a child, around 2.5 to 3 years of age. You can hear him make this claim in the context of claiming ignorance of Christians here. And go to 36:45 here to hear Caner use the exact "majority Muslim" terminology and note the context in which he uses it: explaining that he did not know Christians, thought we hated him, etc. This was one of the main points of his sermon, not a mere "misstatement"! (This is followed with his "my father had wives" claim, which is likewise, I believe, bogus---he remarried after divorcing Caner's mother, but that is hardly the same as having "many wives" in this context). Once again we have Caner's own words standing as testimony in their original context against the excuses being promoted by Norman Geisler.
The Charge that He false Claims that “I Came as a Jihadist from Turkey”.—Ergun denies making this statement, and I have not seen any document refuting his claim. He does claim to have been trained in Jihad, as all Muslim children are. And he is of Turkish ancestry. The rest is apparently extrapolated by his detractors
He claims to have been trained in the madrassa in Turkey in jihad. Yes or no? True or false? Evidently, from Geisler's own arguments now presented here, this is a lie. The convoluted story only becomes more convoluted as people attempt to get around obvious facts. But again, to show that one side documents, the other just asserts:
"May I submit to you, until I was 15 years old, I was in the Islamic Youth Jihad. And so until I came to America, until I found Jesus Christ as Lord, I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September."
Source found here. Remember, according to court documents, after ten years of age, Caner could not leave the country. So, Dr. Geisler---your explanation, please?
The Charge that Caner Falsely Claims to have been a Devout Muslim.—Caner photos prove of his activity in the Islamic religion. He has a picture of his masallah (when circumcised at age 12); a photo of him praying in the mosque; a picture of his reading the Qur’an in recitation. He also has a photo of his receiving a certificate from an Imam. His bother Emir, also a former Muslim, has vouched for the veracity of his claims.
The argument has been made that Ergun Caner, if a devout Muslim, would not make the mistakes he makes (some of which will be exposed below) when addressing basic Islamic beliefs. The provenance of the photos mentioned (some of which appear on Caner's Facebook page) is highly questionable. Since Geisler has raised the name of Emir Caner, we can now ask publicly: Emir Caner, is the picture Ergun Caner has posted on his website (which I provide here) a genuine picture of Ergun's tenth birthday, and was the picture taken, as Ergun claims, in Turkey? If not, where was it taken? Dr. Geisler is now saying Caner was raised in Sweden. Was the picture in Sweden? Dr. Emir Caner, since you have been called as a verifying witness by Dr. Norman Geisler, I call upon you to openly and publicly speak to this issue. Did you live in Turkey? When? Why has Ergun Caner said you could be president because you were born in the US? Did you leave the US and live in Turkey as a young person? If so, when? Can you explain the court order precluding your leaving the US found in the divorce papers that have been posted? Dr. Geisler has now involved you, so answers to these questions need to be provided.
The Charge that Caner Claims to have Learned “Perfect” English in Brooklyn.—Caner denies that he said his English was “perfect.” But he did learn some English while living in the old Jefferson Hotel while the family first migrated to the United States. They moved to Ohio where his English improved.
I have never heard any discussion of "perfect" English. But I myself have raised all sorts of issues relating to his claim to have learned English as a teenager having just moved here from Turkey. So, excuse me, but how long was the Caner family at the Jefferson Hotel, given that Ergun was a whopping 2.5 or 3 years old? His English improved? You know, we'd think that would happen, going to kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, and high school in Ohio. English was the predominate language in those schools in the 1970s. Since the records indicate Emir was born in Ohio, and that when Ergun was four, are we to believe he learned English (being a native Swedish speaker) in one year as a three to four year old? How does any of this square with his claims to have learned English in Turkey by watching American TV, a claim he has made numerous times? Click here and go to 10:20 to listen to Ergun Caner claim to have learned English by watching Andy Griffith and the Dukes of Hazzard. Dr. Geisler, was that a lie? Please tell us.
(continued in part 3)