Another American Church Worker Detained in Turkey as Actions Speak Louder Than President Erdoğan’s Words on Religious Freedom

October 30, 2018

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Another American church worker was detained within hours of American Pastor Andrew Brunson’s release in Turkey – as President Erdoğan’s claimed , "In the last 16 years, freedom of any individual, ethnic or religious group did not deteriorate in Turkey, their life was not interfered with."

David Byle , who has lived for the past 18 years in Turkey, was arrested on 13 October during a routine ID check at an Ankara train station. After interrogation David was released the next day, but ordered to leave the country within 15 days by Turkish officials. It is not yet known if David has left Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan . A referendum in April 2017 granted him sweeping powers strikingly similar to those of the Sultan under a historical Ottoman constitution

Over a period of eleven years, this is the fourth time that David has been arrested. The first occasion was in 2007 when police accused him of “missionary activity, disturbing the police, and insulting Islam”. The charges were dropped, but he was arrested again in 2009 and 2016.

In spite of the President’s speech, made at an opening ceremony in Istanbul, Protestant Christians in Turkey have reported a rise in recent years in hate crimes and hate speech. Other Christians have also suffered though incidents such as the confiscation of many church-owned properties . In February 2018, the European parliament adopted a resolution expressing serious concern about the lack of freedom of religion in Turkey “including the increased discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities”.