Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ergun Caner - A Turkish Response

An alert reader, gypsyrose, brought to my attention an article/interview published in response to Ergun Caner's book, Unveiling Islam. The date of the article is apparently 13 June 2003. The article can be found at the following link (link)(google machine translation).

The article criticizes the book for being defamatory of Islam and Mohamed. Additionally, the article takes issues with Caner's credentials and research, noting that many of the book's citations are to other works critical of Islam. One interesting portion of the article alleges: "First of all, they do not know Arabic or their father's language, Turkish." The exact basis for this assertion is not stated.

Nevertheless, it should be understood that the Turkish interviewer had to ask questions in English and translate the answers back into Turkish. The most interesting aspect of the article, indeed, is the reported interview. There is, we must note, a "lost in translation" issue possible, such as that found on Dr. Caner's own website where an English=>Korean=>English translation path leads to the bizarre reference to a "an Islamic sect called Ulima." (source)

Likewise, the article states: "The example that Ergun gives that he became a Christian though a friend at the age of 15 whose father was a pastor, and that his brothers followed him afterwards into the religion." Again, the basis for this is not stated. This would be consistent with Caner coming to Christ in 1981, in his sophomore year of high school. Furthermore, the article states: "His father's family had its roots in Istanbul. His father was an engineer and a religious man who was also attached to his secular values. Acar Caner studied engineering in Sweden and then moved to the capital of Ohio, Columbus, in 1969, with his Swedish wife who had converted to Islam." Again, the source of the details here is not explicitly stated. However, the 1969 arrival date is consistent with the details we have located.

With those caveats, the reader I mentioned above, has provided not only the translations of the sentences quoted above, but also the following partial translation of the interview portion (see the original translation and accompanying comments in the previous comment box: here):

Dr. Ergun Caner, who teaches Church History at Dallas's Criswell College, answered the (our) questions put to him, thusly:
[Question] Do you see yourself as a Turk?

Caner: Of course, from my father's side I am Turkish. Most of my family has lived in Ankara or Istanbul. Most of them are still there, however since we moved to the USA in 1969, we have no contact. As a Turk, I feel proud of my heritage. We all have pictures of Ataturk in our houses. [translator note: "Ataturk" refers to the founder of the Turkish republic, M.K. Ataturk] Anyway, there are many Turkish Christians, we are also part of Turkish culture.

Question: The book is written from "Inside" of Islam?
Caner: The word "inside" [tr. meaning devout], was added by the publisher. I cannot be sure how much "inside" [devout] we are/were. Yet, it is a fact that we were raised as Sunni Muslims. My father was active in the mosque until he died. When we finally came to the conclusion that Jesus was not only a prophet, we became Christians.

Question: Why did you write a book like this? [Unveiling Islam]
Caner: We are not experts in Islam. We only read the Qur'an and listened to the Imam. Because Americans are not aware/familiar with Islam, we decided to write a book about Islamic life, how differently the Qur'an is used by Muslims. We wanted to explain it.

It is interesting to note that in this interview, Caner states that they came in 1969, and that they have not had contact with their Turkish relatives since that time. While "no contact" may be a little extreme (the court records suggest that Acar maintained some kind of contact with his brother in Turkey), the fact is that we have an interview dated in 2003, in which Caner appears to be acknowledging a 1969 arrival date in the U.S. He also seems to be acknowledging that the level of devotion may not be as high as the Turkish word corresponding to "inside" would suggest. Dr. Caner appears to blame the editors for that word. However, recall that at the 2009 Value Voters Summit, Dr. Caner described himself as being "as devout as it gets" (link to discussion).

A word of caution: while I have no specific reason to doubt the integrity of the Turkish publication, the review is obviously a critical review that takes umbrage at perceived insults to Islam and Mohamed in the book. On the other hand, I have not seen any complaints from Caner that the article was inaccurate.

Also, while I can compare gypsyrose's translations to google's translations to see if they appear generally accurate, I don't claim any special knowledge of Turkish. I understand that others who know Turkish have been contacted by one of my friends. Thus, if they discover errors in the translations above, I hope they will bring it to my attention.

- TurretinFan


Anonymous said...

I do see a pattern here with Ergun and his more "truthful" non embellishment comments and comments that are laced with embellishment.

Take this article and his DMV/LICENSE responses.

It seems he has a keener sense of "who" he is answering to. When it has to do with the truth of the matter that is easily confirmed for accuracy, he tends to be truthful.

When it seems no one would even check to see his answers or words, he embellishes.

It seems to me when he is being interviewed by a "Turkish" reporter of an organization that is based in the homeland he is more mindful of giving an accurate answer to the questions.

As has been noted, it is a crime to falsify legal documents about yourself, including stating your name for the record truthfully. You just cannot embellish these things and not have to answer for it!

It seems until the total black out of late, his handlers have been reworking and reworking his initial persona after 9/11 to reflect what is closer to the truth of who he is?

Bennett Willis said...

I had thought that he was "maturing" and not bringing up the embellishments so much. Then the January 2010 tape shot that out of the water. After February--are there more repetitions of the embellishments after February?

It seems to me that February is about when this all began to open up. The biography came down and got cleaned up. The question then was, "Will this go away?" And it did not.

I am still puzzling over who knew all along. Certainly Emir did and the third brother. A number of people have maintained what is sometimes called "credible denial." There have to be others who worked with Dr. Caner over the years who wondered about what they knew about his real testimony and what became apparent after 9/11. They might think that he just did not bring those things up because he was embarrassed about them rather than because they were additions.

Anyhow, only 24 more days if the report is delayed as long as possible without being late.

TODDL said...

There is an interesting discussion about the caner situation over here:

TurretinFan - perhaps some of the fodder there would make another good article.


Turretinfan said...

Thanks for the tip.