There could be as few as 8,700 Jews still in Iran

The Jewish community routinely touted as the largest Jewish community in the Middle East may have no more than 8,700 members, according to the latest official census (report in NRG Ma’ariv). Even allowing for undercounting, this is less than half the 20,000 figure usually quoted by the Islamic Republic. Most Iranian Jews are thought to have emigrated to the US. Outside Israel, the country in the region with the largest Jewish community would now be Turkey, with its 17,000 or so Jews. (With thanks: Meir)

“The Iranian authorities have published their results for the 2011 census, which shows that the country today has about 8,700 Jews, a number much lower than estimates of the size of the community in the Islamic Republic indicate.

The Department of Strategic Planning and Supervision at the presidential palace in Tehran presented on its website the full report on data gathered during the census conducted in the country last year.

יהודים באיראן.

Jews saying morning prayers in Iran

According to the census director 75.2 million people currently live in Iran, less than the figures given by the American Central Intelligence Agency. This placed the number of residents at about 78.86 million people as of July 2011. Only Egypt, with about 81 million inhabitants, has a larger population.

Of the total, 73.5 million residents are Iranian. The largest minority group is Afghan, with 1.5 million people, immediately followed by 51,500 Iraqis, Pakistanis (17,700) and Turks (16,000).

The census conducted six years ago put the number of Jews in Iran at 9,252 persons.

Read article in full (Hebrew)

Read English version (Google translate)


  • Good point, Eliyahu.
    There could be as many as 30 million ethnic Azeris in Iran, but they are not listed as a separate group.

  • The census seems highly political in that it totally overlooks [or omits] ethnic and religious groups that the regime apparently does not want people to know about: Kurds, Baluchis, Azeris, Assyrians, Armenians, Zoroastrians, and Bahais.
    It seems that the Arabs from Arabistan are identified as "Iraqis" whereas the Baluchis may be the unspecified "Pakistanis" and seem to be undercounted.

  • I would think these are comparatively rare nowadays – the major factor is emigration.

  • While it is possible that Iran has greatly inflated the numbers of Jews (as a way of psychological warfare against Israel in the event of an Israeli/Western strike) from the start and that much of the Persian Jewish community has moved out of Iran over the years, in light of countless reports on how non-muslim minorities are treated in Islamic-majority states, how much of the decline can also be attributable to kidnappings, forced conversions and general assimilation?


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