Turks Hold 'Anti-Islamophobia' Events in U.S. While Detaining U.S. Pastor in Turkey

Turkey’s Dogan Holding held two international events on October 20 in Washington, D.C., reported the Dogan News Agency (DHA), “in a bid to globally fight against the fallacies and prejudices directed toward Islam.”

A panel titled “Islamophobia: Overcoming Myths and Engaging in a Better Conversation” was organized in cooperation with the U.S.-based Atlantic Council think tank and the Smithsonian Institution.

Also, the opening gala of the exhibition -- titled “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts” -- was held on October 19 at the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian.

Marking a first in the U.S., centuries-old Qur’ans taken from the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum in Istanbul are being shown at the exhibition, which is being sponsored by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, Koc Holding, Dogan Group, and Turkish Airlines. The exhibition will be open through February 20, 2017.

While the Turkish government and Turkish organizations are striving so hard to “fight against Islamophobia,” religious minorities and even non-observant Muslims in Turkey are continually exposed to discrimination, physical violence, as well as unlawful detentions and deportations.

The latest Christian victims are Rev. Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine. The pastor of the Resurrection Church in the city of Izmir, and his wife were detained on October 7.

Norine was released on October 20. She is allowed to stay in Turkey only until November 12, when her residence permit will expire. However, Turkish authorities are still holding her husband in isolation in an Izmir detention facility on the grounds that he is “a national security threat to Turkey.” The couple has resided in Turkey for the past 20 years.

Rev. Brunson has been refused contact with lawyers since he was detained.

Officials from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara went to Izmir to see Brunson, but they were prevented by Turkish authorities from contacting the pastor.

“The authorities forced Pastor Andrew to sign a document that says that he does not want to see U.S. officials from the U.S. Embassy in Turkey, but he refused to do so,” said a pastor from Izmir. “Only his wife has been allowed to see the pastor after her release so far and she saw him twice.

“When he was first detained,” added the pastor, “we asked the police officials not to put him in the same cell with Islamic State suspects. He was then put in the removal center for foreigners in Izmir. And the center is like a half-prison.”

The pastor added that a Turkish MP was informed by authorities, off the record, that “they have a scheme of a terror organization, in which Brunson is also involved."

“After his lawyers objected to his detention,” added the pastor, “they were also told by the local migration management officials that the pastor is accused of ‘being a member of a terror organization.’”