An Iranian court has denied custody of an adopted 2-year-old girl to her Christian parents after they faced criminal charges for practicing their faith, according to a report by Morning Star News.
The parents, Sam Khosravi and Maryman Falahi, converted from Islam to Christianity, a decision not legally accepted under Sharia Law.
The Iranian Constitution dictates that “a child born to a Muslim father is considered to be Muslim,” according to the 2017 International Religious Freedom Report.
In June 2019, the couple was arrested and convicted of “propaganda against the regime” for practicing their faith, according to the report.
Prior to this arrest, they were in the middle of finalizing their daughter Lydia’s adoption. The husband was sentenced to one year in prison and exile for two years, while the wife was required to pay 8 million Tomans, approximately $200 U.S. Dollars. She is also restricted from returning to her nursing job and not allowed to seek employment with any public entity.
Although Khosravi and Falahi are still considered Muslim under Sharia law, a court in Bushehr determined that their Christian conversion would not allow them to properly raise their Muslim-born daughter who has been in their custody since February 2019.
The judge openly stated that the child was thriving in Khosravi and Falahi’s care and acknowledged the emotional attachment between the parents and child. The judge also stated that taking the child away from Khosravi and Falahi would likely result in her permanent entry into the Welfare Department. The child has ongoing health issues that would prevent her from being adopted by another family.
Regardless of these observations, on September 23rd, the ruling was upheld by an appeals court.
Khosravi and Falahi’s case is an example of Iran’s effort to negate the spread of different religions in the region. Christians are not allowed to engage in discussions of faith with non-Christians, according to Open Doors USA, a rights group monitoring Christian persecution globally.
Iran’s legal system, which is guided strictly by Sharia law, discourages intermarriage between different religions and causes legal status obstacles for children born to non-Muslim parents, as addressed by the Morning Star.
Christian arrests are common in Iran, with the 2020 World Watch List estimating 169 arrests this year alone, according to Open Doors.