A Christian minister who has lived in Turkey for almost 20 years has been barred from re-entering the country because of his stand for Christ.
David Byle moved with his family and began his missionary work in the early 2000s, but was suddenly told to leave the country and, upon his return, informed that the authorities had imposed a permanent re-entry ban on him.
Byle is now being supported by religious freedom organisation ADF International and is taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Byle’s street-preaching ministry gathered great local interest, as passers-by “drank up the stories of Jesus, because they are not stories you commonly hear on the streets of Istanbul”.
But Government authorities opposed the work, and Byle has even been detained multiple times for sharing the Gospel. But he told how he would share the good news of Jesus while held in cells.
He said: “There are rarely other places where people have nothing but time and are happy to pay attention and listen without distraction.”
In 2016, Byle faced an unjust decision to deport him and successfully appealed to the Court on the legality of the motion.
The Court granted an injunction allowing him to stay, but Byle was again arrested and told to leave the country in 2018, despite possessing a guarantee of protection to remain.
Byle told ADF International: “They made it sound like I could just come back as soon as I followed this order”. But upon his return, he was banned from entering due to being a ‘threat to public order and security’.
When his case did finally reach the Turkish Supreme Court, it was thrown out immediately as Byle was not present in the country, and therefore the case was viewed as irrelevant. The Byle family now reside in Germany.
‘Stuff of nightmares’
ADF International’s Deputy Director, Robert Clarke, said: “Everyone has the right to choose their religion and to express it publicly and privately.
“Being forced to suddenly leave the country you have called home for two decades simply because of what you believe is the stuff of nightmares.”
Clarke was joined by Legal Officer Lidia Rieder, who said: “It is concerning that we are witnessing increasing displays of hostility particularly towards foreign Christians in Turkey.
“These deliberate attempts to stifle the spreading of Christianity violate religious freedom.”