An Iranian appeals court has ruled in favor of\u00a0separating a two-year-old\u00a0child from her adoptive parents due to their Christian faith, a non-profit Christian watchdog reported on Thursday.\r\nThe court\u2019s decision to separate Lydia from her adoptive parents \u2013 Christian converts Sam Khosravi and Maryam Fallahi \u2013 was issued in July by a court in their hometown in the southwestern city of Bushehr, the watchdog Article 18 said.\r\nAn appeals court upheld the decision on Wednesday, Article 18, reported.\r\nThe ruling states that \u201cbecause the child was born a Muslim,\u201d she cannot be placed in the care of a Christian family.\r\nThe court had accused the Christian couple of falsely claiming to be Shia Muslims when filling out the adoption paperwork. The couple dismissed the accusation as \u201cbaseless,\u201d stressing that they had \u201cnever concealed our Christian faith.\u201d\r\nLydia, who suffers from heart and gastrointestinal problems, was adopted by Khosravi and Fallahi when she was two months old.\r\nThe ruling has been upheld despite an acknowledgment from the judge in his initial verdict that Lydia felt an \u201cintense emotional attachment\u201d to her adoptive parents. The judge said there was \u201czero chance\u201d another family would adopt her given her health problems, according to Article 18.\r\nThe judge had also said that an \u201cuncertain future\u201d awaits Lydia should she be returned to the orphanage, the report added.\r\nThe couple\u2019s lawyer was able to obtain \u201cfatwas\u201d (religious edicts) from two senior Iranian clerics that stated Lydia could stay with her Christian adoptive parents, but the court reportedly dismissed them.\r\nMansour Borji, advocacy director at Article 18, believes the court was under pressure from Iran\u2019s Ministry of Intelligence.\r\n\u201cThe verdict clearly demonstrates the unwillingness of the judge to hand down this sentence \u2026 he was coerced by the representative of the Ministry of Intelligence. It is another clear example of the lack of independence of the judiciary in cases involving Christians,\u201d Borji told Article 18.\r\nLydia\u2019s adoptive parents were among seven Christian converts detained by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Bushehr in 2019.\r\nIn June, Bushehr\u2019s Revolutionary Court accused the seven converts of \u201cpropaganda against the state.\u201d\r\nFallahi was jailed for 17 days, where interrogators threatened to take Lydia away from her, the report said.\r\nKhosravi was sentenced to a year in prison, followed by a two-year internal exile. Both he and Fallahi were also banned from working within their specialist professions.\r\nReligious minorities in Iran, including Christians, Sunni Muslims, Jews, Baha\u2019is, and others, are\u00a0frequently subject to discrimination, harassment, detention, and even execution.