Bibles Get American Pastor Tangled Up in Turkish Politics

In Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, another Andrew Brunson-style case is brewing.

Will the Turks create another Andrew Brunson?

On the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, they claim to have found his disciple.

Three months ago, Ryan Keating, a 44-year-old American pastor was detained for 11 hours by the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Unrecognized by every nation except Turkey, its police raided the café and wine shop that housed his church, and then proceeded to his home.

Dozens of Arabic and Farsi language Bibles were confiscated.

Keating was released on nearly $20,000 bail, after local friends bonded deeds to their property, vehicles, and even a tractor.

Last month, Keating was charged with illegally importing Christian materials. His passport has been confiscated, awaiting trial. A fine has been assessed of at least $60,000—ten times the value of the Bibles—which he said is “wildly inflated” to begin with.

The raid, however, was based on the accusation that he did not have a permit to make wine. Keating, however, showed CT his 2018 license to operate the café, his 2019 license for winemaking from the municipality, and the additionally requested paperwork in 2020, when his permit renewal was delayed by the customs department.

The interrogation queried only about his ministry.

“This country, its government, and our neighbors have been friendly to us,” he said. “But there are not insignificant pockets of hostile nationalism.”

Keating linked his arrest to the changing political environment.

Last October, the pro-Turkey prime minister defeated the incumbent president to assume the territory’s top office.

“My case is an example of localized opposition,” Keating said. “But now, Turkish-style politics is being enforced …

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