Archbishop of Canterbury expresses concern over Christian woman’s arrest in West Bank

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Anglican leaders have voiced alarm following the arrest of a Christian woman by Israeli forces in the West Bank, about three years after she was previously detained for her association with a student group Israel deems illegal.

Layan Nasir, a 23-year-old member of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Birzeit, was taken into custody from her home in the early morning hours on Sunday, drawing criticism from her family.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, expressed his deep concern over Nasir’s arrest on social media, urging people to pray for her safety and prompt release.

“I’m shocked and deeply concerned by this news,” Welby wrote on X. “Together with our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters, I pray for Layan and her family — and for the congregation of St Peter’s Anglican Church in the Occupied West Bank. Please pray for Layan’s safety and swift release.”

Bishop Christopher Chessun echoed this sentiment, as reported by Church Times.

Richard Sewell, the dean of St. George’s College in Jerusalem, said on social media that he was “Deeply disturbed and shocked that a member of our church in Birzeit in occupied West Bank has been arrested by Israeli forces.”

Nasir’s ordeal began when Israeli troops detained her at her family home at 4 a.m., with the family saying they didn’t provide a warrant or reason for the arrest. The family remained unaware of her whereabouts until Wednesday, when they learned she was being held at Damon Prison in Israel.

According to a petition, Nasir recently graduated with a nutrition degree from Birzeit University and is employed by a Palestinian NGO near Ramallah.

In 2021, she was detained along with over 20 other students in a sweep by the Israeli military and held without trial for months, during which she reportedly faced ill-treatment.

Her family told The Guardian that she was detained at the time on accusations of being part of a leftist student group, the Progressive Democratic Student Pole, an organization criminalized by Israel in 2020.

According to Middle East Eye, the PDSP is linked to the Popular Front of Liberation of Palestine, a secular Palestinian Marxist–Leninist and revolutionary socialist organization. This association was declared illegal under Israeli military orders that date back to British mandate regulations.

While some of her friends, including 10 other women, were sentenced to 14 months in jail, she was released after two months after paying bail. She has been in legal limbo since, Nasir’s family told the Guardian.

“[Israel claims] that student unions are affiliated with organizations outside the campus, but that doesn’t mean it is true,” Nasir’s cousin, Tala Nasir, a Palestinian rights lawyer, was quoted as saying.

Layan Nasir has been living with her two brothers and parents at their home in Birzeit.

Last Thursday, following the deaths of several aid workers amid the war in Gaza, Archbishop Welby reiterated calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Israel launched the offensive last October after Hamas, a terror group that has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, carried out an Oct. 7 surprise attack in southern Israel that killed 1,200, mostly civilians. Over 240 people were abducted. Israel’s aim has been to secure the release of hostages and eradicate Hamas.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says that over 33,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, a figure that doesn’t differentiate between combatants and survivors.

Many international actors and faith leaders have called for a ceasefire, while others have called on Israel to eradicate Hamas.

© The Christian Post

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