Turkey’s Protestants increasingly fear deportation

Protestant pastors and their families in Turkey increasingly fear deportation as tensions have been growing between the Turkish government and the country's Christian community, Deutsche Welle reported on Saturday.

DW said that the case of the U.S. citizen Joy Anna Crow Subasigüller illustrated that religious freedom is in jeopardy in Turkey. 

Subasigüller has been in Turkey for 10 years. She married to a Turkish man and they have three children who are Turkish citizens. But she is facing deportation after Turkey's migration department refused to renew her residence permit - without providing any specific explanation - she told DW.

She suspects Turkey's decision to deport her has to do with her husband, Lütfü Subasigüller, who works as a Protestant pastor in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara. He told DW that members of the country's Protestant community or their spouses have been labelled as threats to national security, but added: "We are people who pray for our country, we do not threaten the national interest."

Turkey has been making it increasingly difficult for Protestant foreigners, or foreign spouses of Christian Turks, to remain in the country since 2019. Members of the country's Protestant community believe the crackdown is partly explained by the jailing of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson by the Turkish authorities. 

Timur Topuz, president of the Istanbul Protestant Church Foundation (IPKV), told DW that Protestant pastors are facing growing hostility in Turkey – with 35 of them currently experiencing problems with their residency permits. Since their family members are usually affected as well, this means around 100 members of the community are facing difficulties, he told DW.

"Since the Brunson incident, all Protestant pastors are treated with suspicion," Topuz said.