British Iraqis

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British Iraqis
Total population
Iraqi-born residents
32,236 (2001 Census)
65,000 (2009 ONS estimate)
Other estimates
350,000–450,000 (2007 Iraqi embassy estimate)
Regions with significant populations
London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow
Kurdish, Mesopotamian Arabic, British English, Neo-Aramaic, Mandaic, and Turkmen
Islam, Christianity (Syriac Christianity and Eastern Catholic), Mandaeism, Judaism
Related ethnic groups
Arab British, Iraqi Americans, Iraqi Australians British Assyrians, British Iranian, Lebanese British, British Jews, Turkish British

British Iraqis are people whose heritage is originated from Iraq who were born in or who reside in the United Kingdom.


The UK has had a significant Iraqi population since the late 1940s.[1] Refugees including liberal and radical intellectuals dissatisfied with the monarchist regime moved to the UK at this time. Supporters of the monarchy subsequently fled to the UK after it was overthrown.[1] According to an International Organization for Migration mapping exercise, many settled Iraqi migrants in the UK moved for educational purposes or to seek a better life in the 1950s and 1960s. Some members of religious minorities were also forced to leave Iraq in the 1950s.[2] Other Iraqis migrated to the UK to seek political asylum during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, with large number of Kurds and Shi'a Muslims in particular migrating in the 1970s and 1980s,[3] or as a result of the instability that followed the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[2]


Population size[edit]

The 2001 UK Census recorded 32,236 Iraqi-born residents,[4] and the Office for National Statistics estimates that, as of 2009, this figure had risen to around 65,000.[5] According to estimates by the Iraqi embassy, the Iraqi population in the UK is around 350,000–450,000.[2] At the time of the Iraqi parliamentary election in January 2005, the International Herald Tribune suggested that 250,000 Iraqi exiles were living in the UK, with an estimated 150,000 eligible to vote.[6]

Population distribution[edit]

According to community leaders in March 2007, there are around 150,000 Iraqis in London, 35,000 in Birmingham, 18,000 in Manchester, 8,000 in Cardiff and 5,000 in Glasgow.[2]


According to the International Organization for Migration, ethnic Kurds are the most numerous ethnic group amongst Iraqis in the UK.[2] There are also sizeable numbers of Arabs,Chaldeans, Assyrians[7] as well as Iraqi Turkmen, Armenians, Mandeans[8] and other ethnic groups, such as Iraqi Jews, Yezidi, Shabakis and Kawliya. In the UK, about 65-70% of people originating from Iraq are Kurdish (and 70% of those from Turkey and 15% of those from Iran are Kurds). [9] According to the 2011 Census, Iraqi-born England and Wales residents most commonly give their ethnicity as Arab (39%), Any Other ethnic group (28%) and Asian (17%).[10]


Although the majority of Iraqis are Muslim, there are also minorities including Chaldeans and Assyrian Christians, Jews,[2] and followers of Mandeanism,[8] Yazidism, Shabakism and Yarsan.

Notable individuals[edit]

Notable Iraqi names in Britain include Mothercare founder Selim Zilkha, advertising agents Saatchi & Saatchi, architect Zaha Hadid, broadcaster Alan Yentob[11], theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili, and hip hop artist Lowkey.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Change Institute (April 2009). "The Iraqi Muslim Community in England: Understanding Muslim Ethnic Communities" (PDF). London: Communities and Local Government. p. 22. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Iraq: Mapping exercise" (PDF). London: International Organization for Migration. March 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  3. ^ Ansari, Humayun (2004). The Infidel Within: Muslims in Britain since 1800. London: C. Hurst & Co. pp. 162–163. ISBN 1-85065-685-1.
  4. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Archived from the original on 17 June 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  5. ^ "Estimated population resident in the United Kingdom, by foreign country of birth (Table 1.3)". Office for National Statistics. September 2009. Archived from the original on 22 January 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  6. ^ Davey, Monica (19 January 2005). "Iraqis far from home sign up to vote". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Assyriac: Denied in Its Own Homeland, but Accepted in England".
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Begikhani, Nazand; Gill, Aisha; Hague, Gill; Ibraheem, Kawther (November 2010). "Final Report: Honour-based Violence (HBV) and Honour-based Killings in Iraqi Kurdistan and in the Kurdish Diaspora in the UK" (PDF). Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol and Roehampton University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-03-05. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Iraqi Community Association". Refugee Stories. Refugee Community History Project. Archived from the original on 12 September 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010.