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Critics Say Caner Isn’t Only Ex-Muslim with Dubious Past

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Liberty University is expected to release a report this month on whether Ergun Caner, president of the school’s Baptist Theological Seminary, fabricated or exaggerated his life story as a former Muslim extremist rescued by Jesus.
Caner is no ordinary ex-Muslim. His story has made him a favorite in conservative Christian circles, and many credit the charismatic preacher with helping boost enrollment at the school founded by the late Jerry Falwell.
At the same time, Caner has become the poster boy for critics who say he’s just the latest charlatan in a line of supposedly ex-Muslim terrorists who have found an audience among Christian fundamentalists seeking to attack Islam.
Most worrisome, the critics say, is that the self-styled former terrorists have been welcomed as “experts” on Islam and terrorism by religious institutions, universities, media outlets, members of Congress and even the military.
“These guys are to real terrorists what a squirt gun is to an AK-47,” said Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who has battled claims of religious discrimination at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“But this is not a joke. This is a national security threat.”
Caner, 43, has repeatedly claimed to have been raised as a Muslim extremist in Turkey, but moved to Ohio as a teenager in 1978, and converted to Christianity. “Until I was 15 years old, I was in the Islamic youth jihad,” he said in a November 2001 sermon at the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. “I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September, as were thousands of youth.”
In 2002, he wrote “Inside Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs,” with his brother Emir, the president of Truett-McConnell College, a Baptist school in Cleveland, Ga.
In recent months, however, skeptical bloggers, such as London-based Mohammad Khan of FakeExMuslims.com, and Oklahoma-based Debbie Kaufman of the Ministry of Reconciliation blog, began unearthing documents and statements by Caner contradicting his own claims.
The Caner brothers’ own book, for example, states they were born in Sweden, not Turkey, and spent most of their time with their non-Muslim mother, not their Muslim father, after the parents divorced in the U.S.
Records indicate the family arrived in the U.S. in 1974, four years earlier than Ergun Caner has claimed.
So far, Caner and Liberty officials have declined comment.
Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., in a terse May 10 statement, said only that “in light of the fact that several newspapers have raised questions, we felt it necessary to initiate a formal inquiry.”
Other terrorists-turned-Christians have invited scrutiny as well, including U.S. citizens Walid Shoebat, author of “Why We Want To Kill You,” and Kamal Saleem, who has worked for Focus on the Family, and recently wrote, “The Blood of Lambs.” Like Caner’s book, their books purport to be insider explorations of radical Islam.
Shoebat, who has said “Islam is the devil,” claims to have been recruited by the Palestine Liberation Organization as a teenager. In 1977, he has said, he threw a bomb on the roof of the Bethlehem branch of an Israeli bank. The bank, however, has no record of the incident, which was never reported by Israeli news outlets.
When asked by The Jerusalem Post in 2008 why there were no records, Shoebat surmised that the incident was not serious enough to merit news coverage. Yet four years earlier, he told Britain’s Sunday Telegraph: “I was terribly relieved when I heard on the news later that evening that no one had been hurt or killed by my bomb.”
On his website, Saleem claims to have carried out terror missions in Israel, fought with Afghan Mujahedeen against the Soviets, and came to the U.S. hoping to wage jihad against America. He also once claimed on the site that he was descended from the “grand wazir of Islam,” until skeptics pointed out that it was a nonsensical term, akin to calling someone the “governor of Christianity.”
Skeptics point out that Shoebat and Saleem claim to have carried out their terrorist activities in the 1960s and 1970s, long before modern Islamic radicalism emerged in the 1980s. They also question why, if their terror claims are true, they’ve been able to retain their U.S. citizenship.
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Caner, Shoebat, Saleem and others like them belong to an “industry” that is often perpetuated by fundamentalist Christians.
“The people that are doing this do it to make money, or get converts, or to get some personal benefit,” Hooper said.
Muslims and non-Muslims alike are troubled that these alleged former terrorists have been welcomed as experts. They have appeared on CNN and Fox News and spoken at Harvard Law School. In 2008, they were featured speakers at a terrorism conference sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Academy, the findings of which were to be distributed across the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.
With the U.S. engaged in active combat in the heart of the Islamic world, Weinstein believes Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. military are actively promoting terrorists-turned-Christians — with potentially deadly consequences.
“These guys are spewing Islamophobic hatred, and the Pentagon laps it up. This is the kind of prejudice and bigotry that can lead to genocide,” said Weinstein.
Despite the evidence against them, Hooper believes these people will continue to be welcomed by some institutions because they preach what some audiences want to hear.
“As long as you attack Islam and demonize Muslims, you’re going to get a platform,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if your facts and background are wrong.”
By OMAR SACIRBEY
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



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nnmns

posted June 22, 2010 at 7:17 pm


It’s not surprising fundy Christians would lap this stuff up and their leaders would promote it. Or that the AFAc would accept it since they seem kind of tight with the fundy’s in Colorado. And Fox, of course and unfortunately CNN and the networks often feature self-interested people as “experts” on their news shows. It’s more surprising that Harvard Law would bite and it’s downright scary that the Pentagon didn’t catch it.
But given people like McChrystal in such high places in the armed forces maybe even that’s not surprising. Why bother developing expertise when the money keeps flowing in, perhaps more when things go badly.



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cmaglaughlin

posted June 23, 2010 at 9:15 am


Hooper states,”"As long as you attack Islam and demonize Muslims, you’re going to get a platform. It doesn’t matter if your facts and background are wrong.” No Hoop-de-doo, YOU are dead wrong! If Caner is found out to be fudging the facts, and in denial, just like “Hawk” Harrelson of the White Sox says, “He be GONE”! Don’t believe me, ask Mike Warnke, author of “The Satan Seller,” who set the “high bar” record for embellishing his life story. Once at the “top” of “hot” Christian speakers and authors, Mike is now in the pit of his own deception and self-promulgation, STILL trying to dig himself out. No, Mike and others like Caner will learn what Paul the Apostle said:”There is NOTHING hid that shall not be revealed.”



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jhubers

posted June 23, 2010 at 10:51 am


It’s so good to hear belief net taking this issue on, as this has flown below the media radar for some time now. There is, in fact, a group of “ex-Muslims” making the circuit, among them Walid Shoebat and Kamal Saleem, who make outlandish claims of terrorist pasts that are so patently false that anyone with any amount of knowledge about Middle Eastern history and realities recognize it to be fake. They are, in fact, making a lot of money off the naivety and ignorance of Americans about things Middle Eastern. Even worse, they are preaching a kind of anti-Muslim hatred that is reminiscent of some of the worst kind of anti-semitism.
Thanks for helping to expose them.



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Hypatia

posted June 23, 2010 at 5:23 pm


Question: How many people have actually written/called/emailed to the persons and institutions mentioned in this excerpt from Beliefnet’s report:
“Muslims and non-Muslims alike are troubled that these alleged former terrorists have been welcomed as experts. They have appeared on CNN and Fox News and spoken at Harvard Law School. In 2008, they were featured speakers at a terrorism conference sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Academy, the findings of which were to be distributed across the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.”
It’s easy to express our outrage on Web sites. It’s not much harder, and only takes a few minutes to create a formal, strong, but disciplined letter of protest and send it, properly modified, to all of the above, INCLUDING your Senator and Congress critter.
How will they know we object if we don’t let them hear from us?



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Hypatia

posted June 23, 2010 at 5:26 pm


Question: How many people have actually written/called/emailed to the persons and institutions mentioned in this excerpt from Beliefnet’s report:
“Muslims and non-Muslims alike are troubled that these alleged former terrorists have been welcomed as experts. They have appeared on CNN and Fox News and spoken at Harvard Law School. In 2008, they were featured speakers at a terrorism conference sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Academy, the findings of which were to be distributed across the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.”
It’s easy to express our outrage on Web sites. It’s not much harder, and only takes a few minutes to create a formal, strong, but disciplined letter of protest and send it, properly modified, to all of the above, INCLUDING your Senator and Congress critter.
How will they know we object if we don’t let them hear from us?



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M Dabash

posted June 24, 2010 at 1:02 am


In media and propaganda industry you will always expect a few individuals who will know or at least suspect such people who are being referred to here as alleged former terrorists. As long as their allegation and stories serves the aim of these few, they will purposely ignore any suspicion. Once their falsehood is exposed it does not matter as the harm is already done. They could be hired tongues serving a purpose.
There may be a few knowledgeable and compassionate ones who would relate to the whole picture and disregard the fables.



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Gus

posted June 24, 2010 at 3:16 am


The ex-Muslims are beginning to have as much credibility as the ex-gays.



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pagansister

posted June 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm


I just find this humorous all around…the totally conservative, Baptist school hires a man who claims to have been a convert to Christianity from that “dreaded” Muslim religion,…being the head of the school of theology in a Baptist college. It’s too funny! Jerry’s probably turning over in his grave! (unless he has risen and is no longer there).



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offensivekafir

posted June 24, 2010 at 6:06 pm


“Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Caner, Shoebat, Saleem and others like them belong to an “industry” that is often perpetuated by fundamentalist Christians.”
And Hooper, himself, belongs to that “industry” of disingenuous apologists for the deeply hate-filled, inherently discriminatory, and violent ideology invented and taught by Mohammed, called Islam. He and CAIR never miss an opportunity (and from time to time manufacture reasons) to slander and publically disparage critics of Islam, Sharia, and Mohammed.
The organization for which Hooper speaks, CAIR, remains an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror funding case, and no less than six former CAIR executives have been found guilty of and been sentenced for terror-related charges.



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cmaglaughlin

posted June 26, 2010 at 9:18 am


Liberty University just removed Caner from his position of Dean. However, he’ll still be teaching!(Huh?)http://www2.newsadvance.com/lna/news/local/article/caner_removed_as_head_of_liberty_university_seminary/28135/



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cknuck

posted June 26, 2010 at 11:22 pm


I have a few colleagues who get all hot and bothered about Muslims denouning their faith for Christianity. I personally think it is a ill pursuit and that holy energy could be focused in much more positive directions and decisions like that should be personal not promoted.



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Katharina Sri (EX NOOR AZA/EX MUSLIM)

posted July 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm


There seems to be increasing deceitful effort to undermine ex Muslims to Christianity, especially ones who are fighting politically and very bravely to oppose Islam and Muslim fanatics. And strangely, Atheists who claimed to hate all religion are behind such effort, but yet defending Islam – like the ones who claimed to be Atheists in Christain Post, who only target Christians for their extreme personal abuses and hate! Such as that hypocrite Mikey Weinstein, who had Pastor Graham banned from praying at the Pentagon and yet he’s defending Islam such as when, he claimed with so much evilness, that such converts are worst than Muslim terrorists and are even trying to promote “Genocide’ of Muslims – see his evil and false comment in Washington Post (see his website at http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/)! And yet not one word from him in condemning Iran’s and the many Arabic-Muslim world constant threat of another Holocaust of the Jews and wiping out Israel in that evil anti-Christian article! And in this similarly anti-Christian article! Thus, Churches and Christians must try to defend such injustice to the Christian converts, who had suffered enough, and are still suffering from Islamic-rule, Muslim fanatics and hypocritical Stalinist-Atheists’ persecution, even in the West!



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Aslanspal

posted July 5, 2010 at 8:23 pm


Maybe a C.I.A. operation pumping up the masses for a potential crusade against Islam….God knows fundies and evangelicals would love that …so they found a willing audience…Falwell was open to it and before you know it….hating Muslims is taken off like a Prairie Fire and the choir loves it.
someone mentioned should Ergun Caner apologize to Islam …no way evagnelical and fundies will let that happen.



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