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October 1, 2020 4:12 pm

Christian Couple Persecuted by Islamic Authorities in Iran Denied Custody of Adopted Daughter

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Sam Khosravi and Maryam Falah are seen in a family photograph. Photo: Middle East Concern.

An appeals court in Iran has reportedly denied a Christian couple custody of their adopted daughter after they were put on trial by the Islamic courts for religious offenses.

According to Morning Star News, a US-based agency monitoring the religious persecution of Christians around the world, the couple — Sam Khosravi and Maryam Falahi — adopted their daughter Lydia from an orphanage in Feb. 2019 when she was three months old.  But before a welfare organization finalized the adoption, government security agents arrested them in July 2019 in a raid on their home in Bushehr in southwest Iran.

The couple converted to Christianity from Islam — part of a growing trend that is punishable in the Islamic Republic with long prison terms.

Six other converts to Christianity in Bushehr were arrested in raids that took place on the same day.

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In June this year, due to a conviction of “propaganda against the regime” commonly meted out to Christian converts in Iran for practicing their faith, Khosravi received a one-year prison sentence along with two years of exile.

His wife, a nurse, was fined $400 and banned from working in a public institution, including the hospital she was employed for 20 years.

Their punishment was compounded in July when a court in Bushehr declared the couple unfit to raise their adopted daughter because she was considered Muslim under Iranian law.

In reaching his verdict, however, the judge conceded that Lydia had forged an “intense emotional bond” with her adoptive parents. He also noted that Lydia’s serious health issues meant it was unlikely she would find another adoptive family, leaving her “forever under the protection of the Welfare Department.”

Iran was ranked ninth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

A recent survey of 50,000 Iranians by a Netherlands-based research organization found that 1.5 percent identified as Christians, indicating that up to 750,000 Christians currently reside in the Islamic Republic.

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