Pastor Michael Feulner thanks those who have been praying for him and requests continued prayer as he waits for the results of a 22 March court hearing contesting a security designation that could effectively ban him from the country.
Michael, a German citizen, came to Turkey as a relief worker following the 1999 earthquake in Izmit. He and his family settled in Yalova, where he has been pastor of Yalova Lighthouse Church since 2003.
In February 2020, Michael was detained at the Istanbul airport,informed he had been labelled a threat to Turkish national security and told he had 10 days to leave the country. Michael initiated court proceedings requesting the removal of the security designation and cancellation of the deportation order.
At the initial court hearing in Istanbul on 11 February the court decided not to rule on the deportation order before a court in Ankara ruled whether the security designation was justified.
On 22 March, a three-judge panel examined that designation, allowing Michael and his lawyer to present evidence that the state has always been aware of Michael’s ministry and that the security designation is a violation of his religious freedom. The judges demanded that Turkish Intelligence (MIT) produce “reasonable grounds” for the restriction.
This procedure showed a contrast to other hearings for foreign Christians with similar security designations. In those cases courts were unwilling to challenge secret reports submitted by MIT, which the defence is not allowed to see.
Michael is thankful for how the hearing went and says that on the evidence he can’t imagine losing his case. It is not known when the judges will provide a ruling.
Christians in Turkey thank God that the hearing went so well and ask for prayer that:
- The judges will clearly see that these so-called “security” designations are an assault on religious freedom rather than an issue of national security and rule accordingly.
- The Protestant community in Turkey will be recognised as an integral part of Turkish society and not seen as a threat to Turkish security or culture.