Christians in Turkey are delighted that the deportation order and entry ban against Christian worker David Byle have been blocked by Turkey’s Constitutional Court.
David, with dual US and Canadian citizenship, has been resident in Turkey for 17 years but has faced frequent attempts to deport him because of his evangelistic activities, even though evangelism is not prohibited by Turkish law. David, speaking to World Watch Monitor last week, said “I have trusted the government’s insistence that Turkey has religious freedom. It’s a legal right here.”
On 6th April 2016 David was summoned by the immigration authorities in Istanbul. He was informed that his residency had been cancelled, and that the Governor’s office issued a deportation order and a re-entry ban. David’s lawyer filed an appeal. David was also detained for eight days until a judge revoked the order for his detention.
Although the appeal was considered on 25th November 2016, David’s lawyer only found out that the court had upheld the deportation order and entry ban in January 2017. The court ruled that David’s evangelistic activities exceeded the usual boundaries of religious observance and could be construed as being a threat or attack against individuals of another faith. Accordingly, David and his family made plans to leave the country.
In a surprise move on 13th February, the Constitutional Court blocked the deportation and entry ban in response to an urgent appeal by David’s lawyer. According to the lawyer, such appeals normally take two years to be processed. The court has suspended the deportation order until specific documentation is produced to show any connection with terrorist organisations, or that David is a threat to public order and security.
In recent months at least three other Christian workers have been deported and pastor Andrew Brunson remains in prison in Izmir, charged with connection to an armed terrorist organisation, despite the lack of evidence. In this context, the immediate blocking of David’s deportation order is remarkable.
David’s friends are delighted with the court’s decision, presumably enabling David to remain in Turkey and continue with his ministry, but they request prayer that:
a. the deportation order and entry ban will be completely revoked
b. despite recent political upheavals, Christians in Turkey will be able to continue to live in line with laws that protect freedom of religion or belief
c. David will be allowed to travel in and out of Turkey without hindrance
Open source: https://www.worldwatchmonitor.