Saturday, March 15, 2008

Jews vote in Iran election

".....Those Iranian Jews who spoke to Reuters after voting in Friday's parliamentary election, in which conservatives are expected to retain their grip, said they faced no problems in the Shi'ite Muslim country for their religion.

"We have been in this country for thousands of years and we will stay," said businessman Edmund Moalemi, 32, after casting his ballot at a synagogue in the capital Tehran.

The United States accuses Iran of discriminating against its religious and ethnic minorities, a charge Tehran rejects.

But Moalemi said: "We have no complaints. We can come here all week and say our prayers."......

Iran's Jewish population has slumped to about 25,000 from 85,000 at the time of the revolution, but is believed to be the biggest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel.

Late last year, a prominent Jewish group in Iran sought to distance itself from a secret exodus to Israel by 40 Jews. They rejected any suggestion they were involved in the group's departure and said Jews enjoy good living conditions in Iran.

An Israeli immigration official said the influx was the largest from Iran as a single group in recent years. The newcomers were offered $10,000 each by a Christian and Jewish fellowship to make the move, the official said in December.

Moalemi, the Jewish businessman, said most of those who left in December had later returned to Iran and he voiced confidence about the future for Jews in Iran: "Although people are leaving there are newborns taking their place.""

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