Mark Alan, a retired schoolteacher from Fort Collins, Colorado, is something of a late developer. He was 42 when he "came to faith” and 65 when he married for the first time, with Duygu, a Protestant convert from Turkey. “It was love at first sight,” Alan, now 73, recalled in a telephone interview with Al-Monitor. The couple settled into a comfortable life in the Aegean port city of Izmir. “I always felt safe in Turkey, I had a real heart for the Turkish people,” Alan said. Then in a single day, their whole world fell apart. Alan was on his way back from the United States last June when he was pulled aside at the airport by Turkish police and told he was banned from entering the country ever again. “They didn’t explain why,” Alan said. He insisted that he had no role in the local church in Izmir where his wife served as a book keeper.
Alan is among more than 50 foreign Protestants, including Finns, Germans and South Koreans, who have been summarily banned from Turkey as recently as June 26 on the grounds they present “a threat to Turkey’s public order and public health.” Some 26 are US citizens.