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A foreign pastor in Izmir was threatened by an armed Turkish nationalist on Friday who was restrained by passerby after shouting anti-missionary slogans and firing blanks into the air.

4/3/2011 Turkey (Hurriyet Daily News) – A foreign pastor in İzmir escaped possible harm Friday after a Turkish man shouting ultranationalist slogans fired blank shots into the air before being subdued by bystanders when he allegedly reached for a concealed BB gun.

Andrew Craig Brunson, the general-secretary of the Diriliş (Resurrection) Church Association in the Aegean province, was standing in front of the organization’s building when the suspect, identified only as M.A.E., approached and started shouting anti-missionary slogans. Brunson and passersby helped restrain the would-be assailant after he tried to extract an extra gun hidden in a bag.

“I have been living in Turkey for years,” said Brunson, whose nationality was not released. “My children were born here and they are growing up [here]. This is the first time I have experienced anything like this. I love Turkey, we have good relations with our neighbors.”

Turkish media have reported that the individual is an extreme nationalist based on his Facebook status updates and his membership in various online groups.

Writing a Facebook status update a few hours before his alleged attack, M.A.E. said, “The imperialists who carry out missionary acts will remove their bloody hands from my country.”

Attacks against Christian clerics in Turkey

Christian religious figures have been the target of a spate of attacks in recent years, many of them deadly.

Last month, Istanbul police apprehended two men who allegedly planned to assassinate a priest in the city’s district of Fatih.

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