The issues presently swirling around Ergun Caner have created a certain amount of lack of clarity. This post attempts to clarify some of the issues. Before saying more, I would like to point out that I've attempted (in three posts - link to first - link to second) to respond to over a dozen of the accusations that have been presented against Dr. Caner. My reason for doing so is two-fold: (1) I view the accusations that Dr. Caner is a "fake ex-Muslim" as violations of the 9th commandment and (2) it seems that none of Dr. Caner's other Christian brethren are providing visible responses to these accusations. As to the latter point, I recognize that I may simply be unaware of what responses have been offered.
I do not endorse the conclusion that the "Fake Ex Muslims" site reaches. That site is essentially trying to suggest that Dr. Caner was never a Muslim. Certainly the title of the site gives that impression. The evidence that the site has adduced, in my opinion, is not sufficient to support that conclusion.
Brief Caner Biography
What is Caner's story? As best as I can reconstruct it, based on a number of inconsistent statements that I've seen both in videos from Ergun Caner and his brother Emir, as well as in their book Unveiling Islam, Ergun and the middle brother of the three Caner boys, Erdem, were born in Stockholm in 1966 and 1968 respectively, to a Turkish father and Swedish mother. The Caner family moved to America some time around 1969 or early 1970, and Emir Caner was born shortly thereafter (in 1970). The family split due to a divorce that was finalized some time shortly after the arrival in America. The brothers' primary custodian was their mother, though they were with their father every weekend and attended the Islamic foundation (which they referred to as the "mosque" though it appears to have lacked any minaret). The branch of Islam with which the Caner family was associated was the Sunni branch (which is the largest by population).
Their father was apparently a devout Muslim who helped to renovate the building that eventually served as the Islamic foundation building, so that it could serve as a place of worship. Their mother's devotion to Islam is less clear. Like many Muslim women immigrants, she does not appear to have worn any of the traditional Muslim female garb. Nevertheless, she apparently encouraged her sons to be observant Muslims and supported their father's Muslim influence.
It appears that in 1981, when Ergun was 15 years old, he was converted from Islam to Christianity. His brothers were apparently converted one year later on November 4, 1982, when Ergun was 16, and his brother Emir was 12 (Erdem was 14). It may be that all three were baptized in 1982, since it appears that the Caners' father disowned them (for their conversion to Christianity) at that time. Their mother does not appear to have disowned them and later converted to Christianity herself. Their father died in the meantime, apparently remaining a Muslim to the end.
This, as I have said, is my best attempt to reconstruct the events of the Caner brothers' lives based on a number of inconsistent reports that have been provided by Ergun and Emir. It would be nice if the Caner brothers would themselves set forth a brief biographical sketch of their lives and explain (if possible) the various inconsistencies that have been brought to their attention. Many of the inconsistencies are troubling, but many of the inconsistencies are in the form of statements made orally and apparently "off the cuff." I understand that people sometimes make mistakes during oral presentations - I myself have done so, as have many of my friends. I also understand that, in the moment, Dr. Caner may have embellished his biography - adding "devout" where it was not justified and overstating his international background.
At the time of this writing, Dr. Caner has removed his biography (link to broken page) his personal testimony (link to broken page)
The primary focus of the Muslim critic seems to have been on trying to persuade people that Dr. Caner was never a Muslim. I don't think that the critic has succeeded in that regard. Nevertheless, he has identified a significant number of troubling inconsistencies with respect to Caner's biography. I hope that Dr. Caner will take the time to carefully (in writing) set forth his true biography. Yet other issues remain as well.
Among the other issues that the Muslim critic has identified were apparently inaccurate reports regarding Dr. Caner's education. Apparently one or more website inaccurately described Dr. Caner's educational background. Thankfully, Dr. Caner has clarified this matter (link to his clarification). That set of comments also included an extremely high level biography. I view this matter as a closed one. I'm not aware of anything else that Dr. Caner needs to explain regarding the inconsistent web site biographies of him that allegedly appeared at an earlier date.
Also, Dr. Caner has been criticized regarding debates. Dr. Caner has provided a statement (link to statement) in which he apologizes in vague terms for falsely claiming to have debated one Muslim leader. However, Dr. Caner has repeatedly claimed to have debated many Muslim leaders and leaders of other religions. It does not appear he has done any such debates. The closest he has come was to doing so was an email exchange with Nadir Ahmed.
Where to Go from Here
I'm at a loss as to how I can further assist in Dr. Caner's defense. Indeed, recently a close friend told me, "I'm not sure pointing out how embarrassing his inaccuracies are can be called a defense." My point, however, from the get-go has been to note that despite a number of such inaccuracies, and despite Caner's apparent penchant for embellishing his oral presentations and conflating details when speaking without notes, nevertheless he was a Muslim who converted to Christianity.
The fundamental assertion that Caner is a "Fake Ex Muslim" is wrong. If the "Fake Ex Muslims" site were merely a "Litany of Ergun Caner's numerous errors regarding Islam" site, I would probably have not bothered to try to come to his defense. At this point, however, I'm not sure of what further assistance (if any) I can be to him. I want to encourage him to get his biography and personal testimony straight.
His own book, Unveiling Islam, corrects many of the mistakes he has made regarding Islam in his oral presentations. It's not clear why he makes the mistakes he does, given the book he has written. I would encourage him, however, to be more careful in his representations of Islam, because it is easy to understand why a Muslim would have doubts about him, given his errors.
I don't know whether Dr. Caner will even read this post. I hope he will, and I hope he will read it in the spirit of encouragement and exhortation that it is written. I hope his followers and fans will similarly exhort and encourage him to make a clean break with his mistakes of the past - set the record straight, and permit us to be able to respond to Muslims who claim Caner is a "fake ex Muslim" with something substantial.
P.S. Oh, and as for the Taser incident. Ok, he didn't get actually shocked according to the video (one of the barbs didn't penetrate his skin). He did take a taser dart to the back, which presumably hurts a bit. (link to Taser post)