ALIAGA, Turkey (BP) -- American pastor Andrew Brunson's continued imprisonment in Turkey following a July 18 court hearing is probably an act of political maneuvering rather than Islamic persecution, two Islamic studies professors say.
Resurgent conservative Islam in Turkey is, however, part of the background, the professors say, that led to Brunson's October 2016 arrest and subsequent imprisonment over what religious liberty watchdogs have called unfounded charges of terrorism and espionage.
"I am not in a position to speculate on why Brunson (as opposed to other Americans, who are permitted to practice their Christianity freely in Turkey) was arrested," said Ant Greenham, associate professor of missions and Islamic studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. "False accusations seem to have played a role. However, [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is now in a position of greater strength, following the lifting of [a] state of emergency" July 18. Read More