Iran: Christian converts’ adopted child to be removed from their care

September 29, 2020

Persecution of Christians in Iran: this story indicates how deeply threatened many governments that persecute Christians are by the Holy Gospel of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. They know that God can transform men’s souls, and authoritarian governments in particular fear that they will lose their control over their people if there are large-scale conversions to Christianity. The result is the persecution and harassment of converts to Christianity in particular.

Please pray that Almighty God would grant to him and to all the Christians of Iran the indomitable strength and perseverance in the Faith of the Holy Martyrs.

For previous coverage of Iran, see here.

“Christian converts’ adopted child to be removed from their care,” Article 18, September 24, 2020:

Lydia was just three months old when she was adopted by Iranian Christian converts Sam Khosravi and wife Maryam Falahi.

Now, just one month before her second birthday, a court has ruled she must be taken away from them, as Sam and Maryam – who are currently appealing against convictions related to their membership of a house-church – are “not fit” to be her parents.

The ruling, handed down by a court in their home city of Bushehr, southwestern Iran, on 19 July but not reported until now, was upheld by a court of appeal on Tuesday, 22 September, despite the judge in his initial verdict acknowledging that Lydia felt an “intense emotional attachment” to her adoptive parents and saying there was “zero chance” another adoptive family would be found for her, given Lydia’s health problems.

It is now anticipated that Iran’s State and Welfare Organisation will seek to remove Lydia from Sam and Maryam’s care as soon as they are made aware of the failed appeal.

And it is with the state, Sam and Maryam fear, that Lydia is likely to remain. Indeed, in his initial verdict Judge Muhammad Hassan Dashti acknowledged that Lydia faced an “uncertain future” and may spent “the rest of her life” in state care.

But that didn’t prevent him from ruling against Lydia’s adoptive parents – and for one reason: they are Christian converts, and Lydia, though her parentage is not known, is considered a Muslim, and as such by law ought only to be cared for by Muslim parents.

Sam and Maryam maintain that they were always clear about their conversion to Christianity; however, the judge ruled that Lydia – a nominally “Muslim” child – should never have been placed in their care.
This fatwa by Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, one of the most senior clerics in Iran, declares Sam and Lydia’s adoption “permissible”.

In seeking to overturn the verdict, the couple’s lawyer managed to obtain two fatwas from Grand Ayatollahs – the most senior Shia Islamic authority in Iran – declaring that, owing to the “critical nature” of the case, poor health of the child and undisputed emotional attachment with her parents, Lydia’s adoption by Christian converts was “permissible”.

But the appeal court judges, in their short ruling, made no reference to the fatwas and only declared that they were upholding the ruling as they had not been presented with any “specific or reasonable evidence” to overturn it.

In his initial ruling, Judge Dashti was clearly sympathetic, noting that “in 13 years of marriage, [Sam and Maryam] didn’t have a child to bring light and warmth to their home”, as well as bemoaning Lydia’s “uncertain future” and strong bond with her parents.

Article18’s advocacy director, Mansour Borji, explained that the wording the judge used indicated that his hands were tied.

“The verdict clearly demonstrates the unwillingness of the judge to hand down this sentence,” he said, “and that he was coerced by the representative of the Ministry of Intelligence. It is another clear example of the lack of independence of the judiciary in cases involving Christians.”…