Christians detained for their faith in Iran paid nearly £1m in bail in 2020

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The cost of bail for detained Iranian Christians reached almost £1m last year, a report by human rights organisations has found. 

At least 115 Iranian Christians were arrested in 2020 because of their faith or involvement in religious activities, said Open Doors, which co-authored the report with Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Middle East Concern.  

The cost of their bail reached a staggering £868,169. 

The human rights organisations warn that Christians are being arrested simply for going to church and then being forced to pay exorbitant fees to stay out of prison, with some even having to surrender deeds for their homes to cover the cost. 

In one case, four Christians were made to pay around £159,500 each for their bail - the highest ever demanded and an eyewatering sum in a country where the minimum annual salary is about £1,000. 

Open Doors' head of advocacy, Dr David Landrum, said the persecution of Christians had not diminished during the pandemic.

"Simply going to a house church is treated as a threat to national security," he said. 

"Christians - particularly converts from Islam - continued to be targeted for their faith.

"This repression stops Christians in Iran living a normal life, free from fear."

The persecution extends beyond bail fees, with one Christian couple losing custody of their adopted daughter. 

Christian converts Sam Khosravi and wife Maryam Falahi adopted Lydia from an orphanage in 2019 when she was three months old, but she has now been taken away by the authorities.

"We have looked after our daughter for nearly two years," they said.

"Even the judge admitted an 'intense emotional tie' has been established between us.

"After taking her away, based on their own assessment, Lydia will face an 'uncertain future', yet they insist on separating us from one another.

"This will have an immense emotional toll on all of us, and most importantly on Lydia."

Iranian human rights organisation Article 18 said that the authorities continue to torture Christians and use inhumane interrogation techniques on them in a bid to force them to recant their faith. 

"Christians Youhan Omidi and Saheb Fadaie were flogged with 80 lashes each this last year – for the crime of drinking communion wine," said Mansour Borji, Article 18's advocacy director.

"The disturbing reality is that the state increasingly resorts to more violent methods to marginalise, dehumanise, and eliminate unrecognised Christians, such as converts and those who seek to mentor them in their newfound faith."