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Update: In a letter dated 5 May 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) declined to hear David Byle’s case. With this decision, the Court unfortunately failed to take the opportunity to affirm religious freedom for David and many other Christians who have been banned from Turkey. According to OpenDoors, the Turkish government expelled at least 60 foreign Christian workers and their families between 2020 and 2022. As we continue to pursue other avenues to seek justice for them, please join us in prayer for those suffering persecution and discrimination in Turkey.  

Evangelist banned from entering Turkey

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Topic | Persecution

David Byle, a Christian minister living in Turkey, was forced to leave the country he had called home for 19 years – simply because he shared his faith. He and his wife had raised their children in Turkey and had become close-knit members of the community 

Byle had faced an unjust deportation decision in 2016 and challenged the legality of the move in Court. Though he had been granted an injunction that allowed him to stay until the results of the case were delivered, Byle unexpectedly faced further arrest. Despite having a guarantee of protection to remain, he was given a new order to leave the country within fifteen days. The authorities alleged Byle was a threat to public order and security despite him successfully challenging previous charges brought against him. After leaving the country, the authorities imposed a permanent re-entry ban on David, something he only discovered upon trying to return to his family. The Byles now reside in Germany.  

Who:
David Byle

Court:
The European Court of Human Rights

Advocacy Team:
Lorcan Price, Lidia Rieder

Result
The European Court of Human Rights unfortunately decided not to hear David’s case 

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"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."

Case Summary

The changes in the political scene in Turkey have caused the government to clamp down even more severely. Christian pastors and their families are being threatened on a daily basis. By its actions, the government is creating a “chilling effect” by treating Christians in Turkey poorly – particularly those from abroad – and making their mission to evangelize as difficult as possible. This hostility faced by Byle and others is a concerning trend of recent years.

As is the case across the world, persecution of Christians is increasing. Turkey is no exception. Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world and yet this issue receives limited attention from the international community.

“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. By ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights, Turkey has agreed to protect the right to religious freedom. We regret that the Court has failed to take the opportunity to hear the case of David Byle and hold Turkey to account. We will continue to pursue every possible avenue to secure justice for those affected by Turkey’s religious discrimination,” said Robert Clarke, Deputy Director of ADF International.

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