Turkey reluctant to release jailed American pastor

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A Turkish court has recently reused bail plea of an American pastor. US National Andrew Brunson was hooked on December 8, and was charged with “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” On December 29, his petition for bail was turned down by the court.

Christians persecuted in Turkey

Pastor Andrew Brunson has been preaching the Gospel in Turkey for more than twenty years and was anticipating a permanent-resident status in Turkey. American Center for Law Justice, reports that the pastor was later arrested for unspecified reasons.

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In a statement, the ACLJ says “the charging documents do not present any evidence against him” nor did the court specify exactly which “terror” organization Brunson supposedly joined. It has been speculated that this case is part of heightening intolerance against Christians and other minorities in Turkey.

Aykan Erdemir a Turk Muslim from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies said: “So today, I would argue, that Turkey’s Christians and Jews are going through a very difficult period.” He has been trying to help Christians, Jews and other religious minorities to gain religious freedom.

“I think Christians have learned to live under constant threat of physical or symbolic violence. They’re used to constant messages of hate, they’re used to Turkey’s culture of impunity meaning that they know that there will be very lenient sentencing to the assailants,” Erdemir said.

A Turkish authority states: “The idea that Mr. Brunson’s arrest was related to his religious affiliation is ludicrous. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians in Turkey who freely exercise their religion,” he said, adding that “It’s absolutely crucial to avoid stereotypes and focus on the fact that Turkey has taken unprecedented steps in recent years to promote cultural diversity, including religious diversity.”

An Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini also made a prayer request on his Facebook page, saying: “Today I am free but there is another American Pastor called Andrew Brunson who is in prison in Turkey for two months now and I know how much heart broken is in Christmas and New Year being in prison. I experienced four of these years in prisons. We need to remember him and his family in our prayers.”