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ICC Note: In the second such incident within the past six months, a foreign Christian has been blacklisted and effectively banned from the country of Turkey. David Byle, Chairman of the Bible Correspondence Course, has opened a court case against the government to appeal the ruling and have his name removed from the blacklist. Byle, has lived in Turkey since 1999, has been forced to leave behind his wife and five children while he attempts to re-apply for permission to live in Turkey. There have been between 5-10 families who have faced similar experiences over the past few years,  said Umut Sahin of the Alliance of Protestant Churches.
By Damaris Kremida
12/17/2013 Turkey (World Watch Monitor) – A Canadian-American street evangelist left Istanbul on Saturday (Dec. 14) after Turkey’s Ministry of Interior repeatedly denied him a residence permit with no explanation.
David Byle, Chairman of the Bible Correspondence Course (BCC), has opened a court case against Turkey’s Ministry of Interior in an effort to remove his name from the country’s blacklist.
In the last three years, Byle, 44, has been arrested, taken to court, been denied entry to the country and threatened with deportation. He has also spent time in prison. But the final straw for him has been in the last two years when he has repeatedly been denied a residence permit without any explanation. (He has lived in Turkey since 1999).
Authorities refuse to explain why Byle is on their blacklist, but Byle says it is because of his Christian evangelism in Istanbul, where he and teams from the BCC gather crowds on the streets with the use of a sketch-board.
His lawyer has requested a written explanation from the authorities, who have stayed silent and advised that Byle apply for a visa from his home country. To that end, the US citizen flew to Chicago, leaving behind in their Istanbul home his wife, who is German, and their five children aged between eight and 14.
And this is not the last the Turkish government will hear of Byle. The court case he opened this week against the Ministry of Interior (in an effort to remove the restriction on his file) adds to another case launched four years ago.
In November 2009, when Byle was arrested after doing some open-air ‘street evangelism’ in Istanbul, Turkey’s Ministry of Interior accused him of “forceful missionary activity” and “disturbing the peace”.
Byle won in 2011, but the Ministry appealed. The case is stuck in a bureaucratic backlog, but Byle’s lawyers expect Turkey’s high court, Danistay, to consider it in 2014.
They say his case is important because it could set a precedent for other missionaries in Turkey. And if they do not win the case in Turkey, they plan to take it to the European Court of Human Rights.
Byle said he and his team from the BCC, which he helped gain official recognition as an association, have been taking to the streets to talk about Christianity for nearly eight years. The association’s Turkish name is officially “Association for the Propagation of the Bible”.
The BCC was approved by the Governate of Istanbul in 2009 and, as its title and mission statement, says its main purpose is to disseminate information about the Bible. Turkey’s Constitution states all people have the right to share their faith and it is a crime to stop someone from doing so.
“Even if David and the BCC’s methods are a little aggressive, theirs is an important service to our country and the Turkish church,” said Umut Sahin, member of the legal committee of Turkey’s Protestant Churches. “David and the BCC are in no way guilty before the law. David is innocent and does not deserve to be thrown out of the country.” Sahin is a Turkish convert to Christianity from Islam; Turkey has approximately 5,000 Turkish Protestant converts.

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