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Turkey expelling 2 US Christian workers after deporting 16 others this year

The persecution of Christians in Turkey takes the form not only of this campaign against foreign Christian workers, but also of the Turkish government’s ongoing discrimination against the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This discrimination has taken the form of 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 affirm the call of Mervyn Thomas, asking the Turkish government “to uphold the right to freedom of religion or belief for all citizens, and to end the deportation of these Christian workers, who are legally resident in the country.”

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

“Turkey expelling 2 US Christian workers after deporting 16 others this year,” by Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post, July 6, 2020:

In what appears to be an official campaign to rid Turkey of foreign Christian workers, the country’s authorities have sent deportation orders to two American Christian workers, according to a religious persecution watchdog.

At least 16 foreign Christian workers have been expelled from the overwhelmingly Muslim country this year, and two American Christians – Joy Subaşıgüller, who is married to a Turkish pastor, and Pastor Zach Balon of New Hope Church in Istanbul – are the latest targets of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey’s Ministry of Interior has told Subaşıgüller that her residency permit has been revoked, and Pastor Balon was told he wouldn’t be allowed to return to Turkey as he was about to fly from Istanbul with his family, according to the U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide….

The group’s chief executive, Mervyn Thomas, called the expulsions “deeply worrying.”

“These workers had all the necessary legal documentation to live and work in the country, yet they are being deported by a government that continues to crack down on Christianity in line with a guiding ethos that equates being Turkish with being Muslim,” Thomas said. “Worse still, in several cases deportation may result in the separation of families.”

Thomas called on the Turkish government “to uphold the right to freedom of religion or belief for all citizens, and to end the deportation of these Christian workers, who are legally resident in the country.”…

Erdogan is supporting calls for Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum, which was the seat of Eastern Christianity for 900 years before being converted into an Ottoman mosque, to be turned back into a mosque.

Turkey’s highest administrative court, called the Council of State, held a hearing last week and said it would make a ruling within 15 days on the future of Hagia Sophia, according to BBC.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged Turkey to “continue to maintain the Hagia Sophia as a museum, as an exemplar of its commitment to respect the faith traditions and diverse history that contributed to the Republic of Turkey, and to ensure it remains accessible to all.”

Turkey is considered a Tier 2 Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom….

North Carolina missionary Andrew Brunson was arrested and detained in Turkey for over two years before his release in 2018 on charges of terror connections, espionage, and “Christianization,” deemed a “hostile act.”…

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