A Christian teacher has been dismissed from her teaching job after the press accused her of conducting missionary activities through social media. Esma Bağci Kaya had been teaching religion and morality at the Hasan Fatma Onal Anadolu High School, a private school in Kusadasi, for the past two years.
On November 6th, the newspaper, Milli Gazete, published an article drawing attention to Esma's Christian faith and accusing her of conducting missionary activities through her private social media account. The story was picked up by other media outlets, leading to an investigation by the National Board of Education. Esma was suspended under orders from the Minister of National Education, Ziya Selçuk. Esma has opened a court case alleging defamatory and discriminatory remarks by the press and the board of education.
In 2016, Esma also faced allegations of her association with Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric who is presently living in exile within the United States due to accusations of instigating a coup. The unfounded allegations against Esma were eventually dismissed. Similar false accusations were the basis for charges against American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was released in October 2018 after serving two years of imprisonment and then subsequently forced to return to the States. (Go to our country report to learn more about the challenges encountered by Christians in Turkey.)
Pray that the truth will be revealed in Esma's case and that she will be allowed to return to teaching. May the governing leaders of Turkey, as well as the members of the media press and the board of education, all realize the importance of promoting freedom of belief for all citizens. In the meantime, prayerfully uphold the pastors, evangelists and lay workers of country's various churches, as they seek to spread the Gospel despite opposition.