Pressure from Religious Freedom Leaders ahead of Turkish President’s Visit

Religious freedom leaders are pressing for action ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to a business summit in New York City next week. In a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, the members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said, “That President Erdoğan will be on American soil to solicit business investments among American companies is troubling given his personal and public support for the continued, unlawful detainment in Turkey of American Pastor Andrew Brunson.”

Pastor Brunson, a North Carolina native, has suffered for his faith in prison and now house arrest at the hands of Turkey, America’s NATO ally, since October 2016.

In a separate statement, USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore said, “What does the Brunson case have to do with business? Everything…. The US business community should join a united chorus of Democrats and Republicans and send a clear message to Erdogan that as long as Turkey holds Brunson, Turkey is too risky for business.”

Similarly, in its letter, the entire USIRCF body said, “We respectfully urge any U.S. officials and entities participating in the conference to reconsider the merits of conducting business with Turkey under the current conditions. The lack of rule of law and deteriorating human rights in Turkey, as exemplified by the case of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, is a serious cause for concern and not conducive to a positive business climate at this time.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: September 21, 2018

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