Saturday, January 26, 2013

Anecdotal Turkey Comment

I don't know about everybody else, but I am really enjoying the comment section on FBCJAXWatchdog's latest post about Ergun calling some Muslims "towelhead stalkers".  Obviously the normal caveats need to be said here.  As Ergun has proven, anyone can say anything on the internet, especially without sourcing.  Also, anecdotes are one of the weakest forms of evidence.  All of that being said, I wanted to share this comment.
I've followed this Ergan Caner story with much interest as I had a personal encounter with him back before he was exposed. My husband and I lived in a large city in Turkey from 2000-2002. We had a pretty good immersion in the culture, lived side by side with other Turkish people and got to know a little of the language. Approximately six years ago (I estimate it was around 2007), we saw an ad that a local church was hosting a talk by Ergun Caner, a converted Muslim from Turkey. We knew nothing of Caner, but were curious, as we knew how rare Muslim converts were.

So, we attended the service and heard Ergun's sermon.The first thing we noticed was Ergun's English was WAY too good for someone who learned English as a second language. He used colloquialisms that foreigners just wouldn't use. His overall mannerisms were also too American. (The way he carried himself, the humor, the facial expressions) It was just ODD.

After the service, we went up to Ergun and I spoke to him in Turkish, with just a basic Turkish greeting. His reaction was one of raised eyebrows, then he answered me back in English with a long, drawn out "hiiiiiiiiiiii". We mentioned that we were intrigued with his story because we lived in Turkey - he asked us about living there, but his questions weren't consistent with someone who knew the culture. One of the things he asked me was whether or not I had to wear the hijab while we lived there. That was a strange question because most women who live in modern cities in Turkey do not wear head coverings. If he had lived there, he would have known that. He also didn't seem to know about some of the Turkish foods we talked about eating while we lived there. After a few other exchanges with him, we left the church.

As we drove away. I turned to my husband and said, "It seemed like we knew more about Turkey than he did." And then my husband said, "Yeah, something's just not right." We never gave it any thought after that because we are not Southern Baptists and don't run in those circles. But, when it came out in 2010 that Caner's story was mostly made up, our experience with him made sense.

One of the things that floors me the most is that Caner was hired as the head of the LU seminary with so little vetting. Where was the discernment of Jerry Falwell? And the board members at LU? My husband and I are not in the ministry, have never spent a day in seminary, yet we could sense after one meeting with Caner that something was fishy.
She is right.  Hijabs are not worn by the majority of Muslim women and they are not popular in most of Turkey.  I didn't find this out until I was midway through seminary.  Though, I may be the exception, most of my education on Islam from Liberty was pretty poor.  I have had to supplement a lot with my private reading. 

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