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Regions with significant populations
Sistan and Balochestan, Hormozgan, Khuzestan
Persian, Arabic, Balochi
Islam (predominantly Shia; Sunni)
Related ethnic groups

Afro-Iranians (Persian: ایرانیان آفریقایی‌تبار‎) are people of Black African descent residing in Iran. Most Afro-Iranians are concentrated in the provinces of Hormozagan, Sistan and Baluchestan and Khuzestan.[1]


The Indian Ocean slave trade was multi-directional and changed over time. To meet the demand for menial labor, black slaves captured by Arab slave traders were sold in cumulatively large numbers over the centuries to the Persian Gulf, Egypt, Arabia, India, the Far East, the Indian Ocean islands and Ethiopia.[2]

During the Qajar dynasty, many wealthy households imported Black African women and children as slaves to perform domestic work. This slave labor was drawn exclusively from the Zanj, who were Bantu-speaking peoples that lived along the coast of the Southeast Africa, in an area roughly comprising modern-day Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi.[3][4] However, Mohammad Shah Qajar, under British pressure, issued a firman suppressing the slave trade in 1848.[5]

Notable Afro-Iranians[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Mirzai, B. A. (2002), "African presence in Iran: Identity and its reconstruction in the 19th and 20th centuries", Revue française d'histoire d'outre-mer, 89: 336–337 
  • Lee, Anthony A. (2012), "Enslaved African Women in Nineteenth-Century Iran: The Life of Fezzeh Khanom of Shiraz.", Iranian Studies, 45:3: 417–437, doi:10.1080/00210862.2011.637769 
  • Ehsaei, Mahdi (2015) "Afro-Iran", Heidelberg: Kehrer Verlag, ISBN 978-3-86828-655-7


  1. ^ Mirzai, Behnaz. Afro-Iranian Lives (documentary film). Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  2. ^ Gwyn Campbell, The Structure of Slavery in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia, 1 edition, (Routledge: 2003), p.ix
  3. ^ F.R.C. Bagley et al., The Last Great Muslim Empires, (Brill: 1997), p.174
  4. ^ Bethwell A. Ogot, Zamani: A Survey of East African History, (East African Publishing House: 1974), p.104
  5. ^ UNESCO: Fugitive Slaves, Asylum and Manumission in Iran (1851 – 1913)

External links[edit]