Stockholm protesters gather in support of Iranian Christians

Stockholm protesters gather in support of Iranian Christians

A group of Iranian Christians living in Sweden say they are planning monthly protests in support of Christians in Iran.

The first protest took place on 25 October in one of Stockholm’s main squares, focusing specifically on the case of Sam Khosravi and Maryam Falahi, a Christian couple fighting for their right to maintain custody of their adopted two-year-old daughter.

Sam and Maryam, from the southwestern Iranian city of Bushehr, recently lost their appeal against a judge’s decision to remove their daughter, Lydia, from their care because they are Christians and Lydia is considered Muslim.

The case has sparked an international outcry, with hundreds of Iranian lawyers and activists calling on the head of the judiciary to overturn the decision.

The protesters in Stockholm, of around 45 people including some Swedish Christians, held up a banner with the words “Stop violence against Christians in Iran”, “Christian lives matter” and the hashtag “#I_Am_A_Christian_Too”, as well as photographs of Sam, Maryam and Lydia and other persecuted Christians such as Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh, Ebrahim Firouzi, Joseph Shahbazian and Mohammad Reza (Youhan) Omidi.

One of the organisers, Amir Hossein Jaafari, told Article18 he had launched the campaign in the hope of fostering better collaboration between Christian activists – both Iranian and Swedish – living in the Stockholm area.

“We intend to continue to protest against the deprivation of Christians’ rights, especially converts, by holding monthly gatherings in central Stockholm and inviting all Persian-speaking Christians, as well as Swedish Christians,” he said, “so that their voices and ours may be heard by the authorities and human rights groups in Sweden, across Europe and elsewhere.”

Mr Jaafari added that the protests weren’t only about fighting for the rights of Christians, but also other oppressed groups in Iran, such as the Baha’is, Sufis and members of the LGBT community.

“The Islamic Republic violates the rights of all those who don’t align with its views and those of Shia Islam,” he said, “and it doesn’t shy away from any inhumane acts – whether its against Baha’is, Sufi mystics, or the LGBT community. And even if these groups may not share our beliefs, they are our fellow human beings and compatriots, and it is our duty as Christians to be their voice.”

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