Iran: Three Christians lose appeal against prison sentence for ‘propaganda against state’

February 16, 2021

Persecution of Christians in Iran: these converts to Christianity “were each convicted of the same charge – ‘propaganda against the state’ – under Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, which provides for up to a year in prison for anyone found guilty of engaging in ‘any type of propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran or in support of opposition groups and associations.’” This is absurd, as all these Christians had were Bibles, crosses, and other Christian material. But the laws in Iran that grant some limited freedoms to the Christians are generally not considered applicable to converts from Islam to Christianity, who are all too often considered enemies of the state, as we see in this case. The U.S. State Department has classified Iran as a “country of particular concern” for “having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, requests that the government of Iran grant full religious freedom to all of its citizens, not interfering with their freedom of worship in any way, and immediately clear these seven converts.

For previous coverage of Iran, see here.

“Three Iranian Christians lose appeal against prison sentence for ‘propaganda against state,’” Barnabas Fund, February 15, 2021:

Sam Khosravi, an Iranian Christian who with his wife Maryam is currently contesting the authorities for custody of their adopted daughter, was one of three Christians who lost their appeal against a one-year prison sentence on 27 January.

Judge Hedayat Rahavi ruled that based on the evidence against Sam, his brother Sasan Khosravi and Habib Heydari from the initial court hearing that “they are guilty of organisation of house churches and promotion of Christianity, which are clear examples of propaganda against the state”.

Sam and Sasan, their wives Maryam and Marjan Falahi (who are sisters), Habib Heydari, Pooriya Peyma and his wife Fatemeh Talebi were arrested at their homes in the south-west city of Bushehr, in July 2019, in a coordinated operation carried out by Ministry of Intelligence agents.

In June 2020, the women were fined and the men were given jail terms of one year for Habib, Sam and Sasan and 91 days for Pooriya. Only Habib, Sam and Sasan appealed their convictions.

The three Christians expect to be summoned to prison to begin serving their sentences soon. When they are released, Sam and Sasan will also face another two years of internal exile and a ban on working in their profession, the hospitality sector, while exiled.

In the meantime, Sam and Maryam are continuing their battle for custody of their daughter Lydia, adopted from an orphanage as a three-month old baby in February 2019….