Turkey Sends Deportation Orders to Two American Christian Workers After Expelling 16 Others This Year

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends an interview with Reuters at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, April 25, 2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

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Turkey’s Ministry of Interior has told Subaşıgüller that her residency permit has been revoked, and Pastor Balon was told he wouldn’t be allowed to return to Turkey as he was about to fly from Istanbul with his family, according to the U.K.-based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

Balon canceled his flight and filed an appeal but that may not protect the pastor, as such appeals have been unsuccessful in the past, CSW fears.

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.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Anugrah Kumar