Three married couples among seven Iranian converts sentenced for “propaganda against state”
7 July 2020
Three married couples were among seven Iranian Christian converts punished on 21 June with sentences ranging from prison and exile to work restrictions and fines.
They were each convicted of “propaganda against the state” under the Islamic Penal Code by the revolutionary court of Bushehr, a city in south-west Iran. They have 20 days to appeal.
Four men – Habib Heydari, Pooriya Peyma and brothers Sam and Sasan Khosravi – received custodial sentences. Sam and Sasan also face work restrictions and exile after their release.
Three women – Fatemeh Talebi, and sisters Maryam and Marjan Falahi – were fined between £320 ($400;€350) and £160 ($200;€175), the lower fine equivalent to two months’ salary for the average Iranian. Maryam, a nurse, was also given a lifetime ban on working for any national institution, including for the hospital where she has worked for 20 years.
Sam and Sasan were each sentenced to one year in prison, followed by a two-year exile from their home city, Bushehr, which includes a ban on working in their specialist profession – the hospitality sector.
Habib also received a one-year prison sentence, but no exile or work restrictions. Pooriya received a 91-day sentence – the minimum jail time required to ensure the prisoner leaves with a criminal record – and again no exile or work restriction.
The seven Christians were arrested in July 2019, alongside Sam and Sasan’s mother, Khatoon Fatolahzadeh, who is in her sixties and as a result was released later the same day.
Because of their change of religion from Islam to Christianity and their active sharing of the Christian faith, Muslim-background Christians are often charged with “propaganda against the state” or “acting against national security” and given long prison sentences.