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Despite Pastor Brunson’s Release, Religious Freedom Concerns Persist in Turkey

On Friday, a Turkish court revised its ruling against U.S. citizen Andrew Brunson. This allowed the Presbyterian minister to return to the U.S. after nearly two years in prison. Religious leaders across theological and political spectrums praised the Trump administration’s role in ensuring his freedom.

“We’re glad for the result today,” said Travis Weber, vice president of policy at Family Research Council. He was inside the courtroom in Izmir, Turkey on Friday morning. “As the case gained traction in the United States, the administration began highlighting it very publicly. These injustices took a while to correct.”

However, several sources note significant concerns surround Turkey. “Turkey continues to hold an estimated twenty Turkish-Americans,” stated The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. “Since 2016, as many as 160,000 people in Turkey have been arrested, detained or fired from their jobs.”

The nonprofit group called out “growing authoritarianism on the part of Mr. Erdogan,” referring to the Turkish President. Since 2014, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pronounced “air-doh-wan”) has signaled his intentions to re-establish a form of Islamist rule in Turkey.

These policies have led to a decline in democracy and human rights in the nation.

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“It certainly is a great first step,” says Ninar Keyrouz of Brunson’s release. She serves as director of media for In Defense of Christians (IDC). “This is a day of hope for all the prisoners in Turkey who are jailed on the basis of expressing their political or religious views.”

Born in Lebanon and often traveling across the Mideast, Keyrouz affirms others’ concerns. ”I’m not sure how empowering it is for Christians in Turkey today,” she says. “There needs to be a lot more done.”

Read more at The Stream. 

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