By: Neil Jones, intern at Alliance Defending Freedom
What makes a home special?
Is it the family that lives with you? The neighbors you meet and the community you form? Perhaps it’s the building itself and the warm memories you’ve created in it.
So, try to imagine the frustration, shock, and sorrow you would feel if someone suddenly ripped your home away from you, and you couldn’t go back. This feeling you’re imagining is precisely what David Byle felt when being expelled from Turkey for lawfully expressing his faith.
David, an American-Canadian citizen, spent 19 years living in Turkey with his wife and five kids. Byle’s passion in life is evangelism, and he felt a strong pull to share God’s Word with the people of Turkey. During his time in the country, Byle shared his faith with excited crowds in the streets; however, not everyone appreciated his efforts.
Byle found himself in jail overnight four or five times, sometimes for multiple days. However, jail time never daunted Byle, and he kept speaking the good word, no matter how many obstacles laid in his path.
That is until a deportation decision was issued against him in 2016.
Knowing his rights, Byle fought the legality of the deportation decision in a Turkish court. Granting an injunction allowing him to stay in the country until the court resolved his case, David continued his mission for the next two years.
Unfortunately, the next hurdle was too great to overcome. David was arrested again in 2018 and told to leave the country within fifteen days, despite his legal protection. The authorities alleged that David’s evangelical mission was a threat to public order and security.
Under the impression he could return without issue, David left the country, but, upon his arrival back in Turkey in the airport, a policeman informed him he had a permanent entry ban.
An insurmountable wall suddenly rose in front of David, and on the other side was his family, community, and the country he had called home for so many years. Given no other option, Byle relocated to Berlin with his wife and children.
The worst part is that David is not alone; since 2019, authorities have forced over 60 other foreign nationals out of Turkey in a similar fashion. Legally, these Christians should not be expelled on the basis of their faith.
The Turkish authorities using immigration laws as a pretext to discriminate against David and his faith is a direct violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects an individual’s right to freedom of religion and expression.
Turkey cannot forsake the religious freedom outlined in its constitution. When authorities remove individuals from their countries based on religious expression, it creates a dark and slippery slope. This ultimately leads to a world where people of faith must either hide their beliefs or risk persecution and deportation, making evangelism almost impossible.
To fight the injustices David and his family face, ADF International recently filed an application with Europe’s top human rights court on his behalf. This battle is not just about getting David and his family back to Turkey; it is a fight for people of faith all over Europe.
David’s story should not end in Berlin. There is a home and community of people wanting to hear more about the good news awaiting David’s return.
ADF International will continue to stand up for David and help to ensure that all people of faith never have to fear expulsion for expressing their beliefs.
For more on David’s case and others like his, subscribe to receive updates from ADF International.
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