Thursday, October 27, 2016

I Was Kicked Out Of Turkey For Being A Christian

Turkey has been Ryan Keating's home for more than 20 years. But last week all that was thrown into jeopardy.
After a short trip out of the country, the American was told he could never come back. No reason was given. There was no investigation. No evidence. He was held in a cell overnight at Istanbul airport and interrogated by the anti-terror police. Then he was told he was a threat to national security and forced aboard the next plane out the country.
"Unfortunately this is typical of the kind of treatment that Christians often get in Turkey," he told Christian Today.
Keating has been in and out of the country since 1993 and has been a full-time resident in the capital Ankara with his wife and four children for the last ten years.
He is doing a PhD in philosophy of religion at Ankara University and has set up Ankara Refugee Ministry (ARM), which provides food, shelter and clothing to 6,000 of refugee families. Run out of Kurtulus Church, one of Turkey's largest evangelical churches, which the Keatings attend, ARM also offers English classes and career training for a handful of Turkey's 2.7 million refugees.
On top of that Keating runs a coffee company called Coffee Haus and directs a discipleship program at his church.
All that is at risk now because Keating has been labeled "a threat to national security" and given a lifetime ban from Turkey.
He has appealed the decision but cases such as his normally take at least two years to resolve and for that time, Keating is a nomad. But he is quick to stress his treatment is not unusual for Christians in Turkey.
"There has been some ways in which Turkey has given increased freedom to religious minorities. But there are other incidents of arbitrary discrimination and this is one of them.
"There is no evidence or justification for why I have been banned. I know I haven't done anything illegal ever in Turkey. We are very careful to obey the laws. We have done nothing to threaten or do harm to Turkey in any way.
"There has been no investigation, no evidence, just an arbitrary ban. And to use this blanket 'threat to national security' – what does that even mean? What are they suggesting I have done or would do?"
Although his family have stayed in Turkey for the time being, they are concerned about their future. They have packed emergency bags in case they are arrested at short notice.
"We have generally been safe, if tense, in Turkey," he said. "But if I can be banned they're all worried about they will be as well."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Turkey Deporting More Christian Ministry Workers, Tagging Them as Threats to National Security

More and more Christians doing ministry work or working in churches in Turkey are being deported by local authorities from the Muslim nation, with some of the Christians tagged as threats to the country's national security.
Among these Christian ministry workers who are experiencing persecution in Turkey are Andrew and Norine Brunson, who are leading the Izmir Resurrection Church located in the Turkish capital, Ankara. The church currently has an average of 30 to 40 worshippers.
The Christian couple, who have been residing in Turkey for the past 20 years, were detained by Turkish officials for supposedly conducting activities that constitute a "national security risk."
The Turkish Interior Ministry has already ordered their summary deportation. The Christian couple have been trying since last April to renew their resident visas but have not received any response from the concerned agencies.
A lawyer who was trying to help the couple sort out their immigration problems was also reportedly denied access to the Christians. Church friends who tried sending clothes to the Brunsons were also turned away.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Five Turks Convicted of Killing Christians in Malatya Sentenced for Life – But Remain Free

Nine years after three Christians were tortured with knives and murdered in southeast Turkey, the Criminal Court in the city of Malatya, where it happened, has convicted their five accused killers, sentencing each of them on 28 Sept. to three consecutive life sentences in prison.

News of the long-awaited verdicts in the notorious "Malatya massacre" case quickly flashed throughout the Turkish media at the conclusion of the trial's 115th hearing. Emre Gunaydin, Salih Gurler, Abuzer Yildirim, Cuma Ozdemir and Hamit Ceker were all found guilty of premeditated murder, to be jailed for life without the possibility of parole.
But most media outlets failed to report the court's surprise ruling: that the now convicted killers would in fact still remain free, subject only to routine surveillance, while the case is being appealed before two higher courts.
Hours after the court decisions were announced, Pastor Ihsan Ozbek released a statement to the press on behalf of the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey.
Deploring the judiciary's stated inability to "uncover the darkness behind the murders", Ozbek declared that the Protestant community desired a prompt, "just conclusion" that uncovered the motivation of the perpetrators and punished their crime.