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Turkey: At Court Hearing, Protestant Pastor Defends Himself Against Deportation as ‘Threat to National Security’

The persecution of Christians in Turkey has more than once taken the form of campaign against foreign Christian workers, most notably another Protestant pastor, Andrew Brunson, who was jailed on false charges of espionage. At the same time, this persecution also takes the form of the Turkish government’s ongoing discrimination against the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

This discrimination involves the denial of all legal identity to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so that it cannot fight for many Christian properties that the Turkish government has confiscated; the closing of the Halki seminary so that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is unable to train new clergy; government interference in Patriarchal elections; and non-recognition of the “Ecumenical” status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

We once again renew our call that the Turkish government uphold the right to freedom of religion or belief for all.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Turkey, see here.

“Turkey: Court hearing for Pastor Michael,” Middle East Concern, February 11, 2021

Prayer was requested for Pastor Michael Feulner of Yalova Lighthouse Church for a court hearing today contesting a security designation that would effectively ban him from the country.

On 11 February Michael and his lawyer attended the hearing at the administrative court in Istanbul. They were given 10 minutes to present their case. The three-judge panel asked no questions and the lawyer representing the immigration department had no comment.

The judges are expected to give a written decision within two to three months. There will be no opportunity to appeal their decision.

Michael commented that the situation felt “strange.”

Michael, a German citizen, came to Turkey as a relief worker following the 1999 earthquake in Izmit. He and his family settled in Yalova, where he has been pastor of Yalova Lighthouse Church since 2003.

In February 2020, Michael was detained illegally in a cell at the Istanbul airport. He was informed that he had been labelled a threat to Turkish national security and had 10 days to leave the country.

His lawyer opened two court cases: one in Ankara to appeal the deportation order and one in Istanbul to contest the security designation and ask for its removal.

Since early 2019 approximately 70 foreign Christians have been similarly designated and expelled from Turkey as threats to national security. One of those was another church leader from Yalova Lighthouse Church, married to a Turkish citizen….

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