German pastor faces deportation from Turkey for jeopardising national security

A court in Istanbul accused Pastor Michael Feulner, a German citizen, of posing a threat to Turkey’s national security, The Barnabas Fund, an international Christian aid agency, reported in February.

Pastor Feulner faces deportation if the judges rule against him, which will happen in two to three months’ time, Barnabas Fund said. Feulner has no right to appeal such a decision in the immigration court.

Feulner’s lawyer told Barnabas Fund that in early February, the pastor had been held in custody unlawfully in solitary confinement for 30 hours, and later told to leave Turkey within ten days. He was later allowed to stay in the country until his case is resolved. More recent information on the pastor is not currently available.

The pastor came to Turkey in 1999 as a relief worker in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Izmit that claimed 17,000 lives. He and his family later settled in nearby Yalova, where he has been pastor of Yalova Lighthouse Church since 2003.

In 2020, Turkey deported at least 18 foreign Christian workers, Christian Post reported in July. The previous year saw 35 Christian workers deported. A February report by the International Christian Concern found an increase in religious freedom violations in Turkey, with several churches converted into mosques and municipal buildings.

A local elderly Syriac couple from the southeastern Şırnak province’s only remaining Christian village have been missing since Jan. 7, 2020, while Syriac monk Father Sefer Bileçen appeared in court in February this year facing charges of terrorism over sharing food with a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).