Archbishop of Canterbury expresses deep concern for Palestinian Anglican woman held by Israel without charges

By Melodie Woerman
Posted May 1, 2024

Layan Nasir, a member of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in the occupied West Bank city of Birzeit, is under administrative arrest by Israel. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has expressed concern that she is being detained by Israel without being charged. Photo: post on X

[Episcopal News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has expressed concern for Layan Nasir, a 23-year-old Palestinian Anglican woman held in administrative detention by Israel after her arrest in early April.

The archbishop’s office said Welby is “deeply concerned to learn that she is now facing administrative detention for four months, without charge and with no due process for her, her family or lawyers to challenge this,” according to an April 28 report in the U.K.-based Sky News. Welby’s office added, “Such processes against what is already a deeply threatened minority are contrary to commitments given over the years.”

Welby also said that Nasir’s arrest is a breach of the assurances made by Israel regarding the treatment of Christians. She is believed to be the only Christian Palestinian woman currently in Israeli detention.

The archbishop previously had said he was “shocked and deeply concerned” by the news of Nasir’s arrest in a post on the social media platform X. There he also noted that she is a member of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in the occupied West Bank city of Birzeit.

Nasir’s mother, Lulu Nasir, told Sky News that soldiers arrived at the family’s home at 4 a.m. on April 6 and threatened them with guns as they searched the house before taking her daughter into custody.

Israeli officials said that Nasir was arrested “in view of intelligence information regarding the danger she poses to the security of the area” and that she “resisted arrest and confronted the forces,” according to the Sky News report. Officials also said a four-month administrative arrest warrant was issued eight days after she was arrested.

HaMoked, an Israeli human rights group, reports that Israel is holding over 3,500 Palestinian detainees without formal charges, and more than 9,000 Palestinians are in Israeli prisons, according to a New York Times story.

Israeli military forces, according to the Times, have said that many of those prisoners were arrested in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces have conducted large raids since Oct. 7 – the day when Hamas fighters stormed communities along Israel’s southern border with Gaza, killing over 1,000 civilians and taking over 200 people hostage.

St. George’s College, an Anglican center for pilgrimage, education and hospitality in Jerusalem, on April 28 posted on Facebook that Nasir is allowed visits from her lawyer but has been unable to see her family or her pastor. The post also said that her family “are deeply distressed and concerned for Layan’s welfare and for her future.”

The post includes a link to a petition calling for her release, which also notes that Nasir had been arrested by Israeli forces in 2021 and was held for several months then before her release. The petition was proposed by Randall Heyn-Lamb, one of the leaders of the Middle East Ministry at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California. Heyn-Lamb is also a member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine Israel Network.

—Melodie Woerman is a freelance reporter based in Kansas.