Kurds in the United Kingdom

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Kurds in the United Kingdom
Total population
50,000 (estimated)
Regions with significant populations
London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow
British English, Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Syriac
Islam (majority Sunni, minority Alevi), Yazidi, Zoroastrian, and a significant number of Yarsan, Shabak, and Kurdish Christians
Related ethnic groups
Iranian people (Yazidis, Zazas)

Kurds in the United Kingdom may refer to people born in or residing in the United Kingdom of Kurdish origin.


Kurdish people first arrived to Britain in large numbers during the 1980s,[1] mostly from the disputed territories of Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Armenia and Syria), fleeing the suppression of their language and culture.[2]


Honour killings are also prevalent among the Kurdish diaspora in the UK [3] A well-known case was Heshu Yones, stabbed to death by her Kurdish father in London in 2002 when her family heard a love song dedicated to her and suspected she had a boyfriend.[4] Other examples include the killing of Tulay Goren, a Kurdish Shia Muslim girl who immigrated with her family from Turkey.[5] Banaz Mahmod, a 20-year-old Iraqi Kurd woman from Mitcham, south London, was killed in 2006, in a murder orchestrated by her father, uncle and cousins.[6] Her life and murder were presented in a documentary called Banaz a Love Story, directed and produced by Deeyah Khan.


According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, drawing on a BBC source, the Kurdish community in the UK numbered around 50,000 in 2002, among which Iraqi Kurds make up the largest group, exceeding the numbers from Turkey and Iran.[7] They have settled across the country including in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow.[8][9]

"Kurdish" is not one of the predefined tick-box answers for the ethnicity question on the UK Census, but respondents are able to write in their preferred self-designation.[10] In the 2011 Census, the number of respondents writing in "Kurdish" was 47,871 in England, 1,106 in Wales,[11] 844 in Scotland[12] and 20 in Northern Ireland.[13] The number of people in England and Wales that speak Kurdish as their main language was recorded as 48,239.[14] In Scotland, the figure was 924.[15]

Notable Britons of Kurdish descent[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "To whom do I turn when I am invisible?: The experience of Kurdish workers who have problems at work?" (PDF). London Metropolitan University. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  2. ^ "Recording Kurdish history in London". Untold London. 9 March 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2008. 
  3. ^ Palash R. Ghosh. "Honor Crimes in Britain Far More Prevalent than Formerly Thought". International Business Times. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Peake, Alex (21 May 2007). "Girl killed over love song". The Sun (London). 
  5. ^ Bingham, John (17 December 2009). "Honour killing: father wrongly convicted of the killing of Tulay Goren". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  6. ^ "Banaz Mahmod 'honour' killing cousins jailed for life". BBC News. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Communities and Local Government (2009), The Iraqi Muslim Community in England: Understanding Muslim Ethnic Communities, Communities and Local Government, p. 35, ISBN 978-1-4098-1263-0 
  8. ^ "Kurdish culture in the UK". Kurdish Human Rights Project. January 2006. Retrieved 17 December 2009. [dead link]
  9. ^ Dissanayake, Samanthi (2008-12-09). "UK Kurds fight separate battles". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  10. ^ "Ethnic Group". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "Table CT0010EW 2011 Census: Ethnic group (write-in responses), local authorities in England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "Ethnic group (detailed): All people" (PDF). National Records of Scotland. 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "Ethnic group - Full detail: QS201NI". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  14. ^ "Twenty largest non-English main languages by number of speakers in England and Wales, 2011". ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE). 16 October 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "Language used at home other than English (detailed): All people aged 3 and over" (PDF). National Records of Scotland. 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  16. ^ Devi, Sharmila (9 November 2013). "Britain's Only Kurdish MP: Kurdistan a Beacon of Hope for Region". Rudaw. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  17. ^ Nelson, Craig (17 October 2014). "We're all one big happy family, says Bury stopper Shwan Jalal". Bury Times. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 

External links[edit]