Iranians in France
|Residents of France born in Iran:
9,715 non-French nationals
8,661 French nationals
(Statistics from 1999. May include non-Iranians.)
|French, Persian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Kurdish. (see also Languages of Iran)|
|Non-religion, Shia Islam, Christianity, Bahai Faith, Other|
Iranians from within the modern-day or previous borders of disestablished Iranian empires have a relatively long history in France. Jean Althen (Hovhannès Althounian), a Persian-Armenian agronomist from Nakhchivan, is known to have introduced madder to southern France in the 1750s. A statue of him was erected in Avignon expressing the city's gratefulness to him. The emergence of a genuine Iranian community in France can perhaps be traced back to 1855-6, when Farrok Khan Ḡaffārī, Amīn-al-Molk, later Amīn-al-Dawla was sent to Paris as the shah’s envoy. During his embassy, a group of forty-two Persian students, who became known as les enfants de Perse (Thieury, p. 39) and who were chosen mostly from the graduates of the recently founded Dar al-fonūn, were sent to France. Meanwhile, in the course of the latter part of the 19th century, the Persian upper classes gradually began to send their sons to Europe and especially to France to pursue higher studies.
Early 20th century
France was a popular destination for Persian (Iranian) international students in the early 20th century. The first government-sponsored Persian students, a group of 20, all went to France in 1926. In 1932, the Pahlavi government drew up a competitive examination to determine the distribution of government scholarships to aspiring international students; 110 out of the 125 students who passed the examination went to France, making them the overwhelming majority of all Persian students abroad. Another 66 chose France as their destination the following year. Aside from government-sponsored students, there were also 537 privately financed Persian students living in France in 1934, nearly half of the total 1,165 privately financed international students. However, in 1938, a governmental decree prohibited students from going abroad on private funds to pursue degrees. The Iranian students in France lived in dormitories on their school campuses, unlike Iranian students in Germany who rented private accommodations by themselves; this meant that they were often subject to surveillance by officials from the Iranian embassy, and prevented the growth of anti-Pahlavi activism among them. Germany, rather than France, would thus become the major European centre of Iranian dissent in the 1930s.
Notable Iranians who studied in France include Mehdi Bazargan, the first Iranian to pass the entrance examination to any of the grandes écoles; he went on to become prime minister of Iran after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
After the Iranian Revolution
Today, Iranians in France consist primarily of "political emigrants", who left Iran immediately after the revolution, because their association with communists, monarchists, or other opposition groups put them in danger, and "socio-cultural emigrants"—especially women and youths—who had little political affiliation but left Iran more slowly in the years following the revolution due to despair over the future of Iranian society. France expelled some of the political migrants, including Massoud Rajavi and his People's Mujahedin of Iran, in an effort to improve relations with Iran and secure the release of French hostages held by pro-Iranian forces in Lebanon.
- Anicée Alvina, singer and actress
- Babak Amir-Tahmasseb, world champion kayaker
- Soheil Ayari, race car driver
- Sarah Kazemy, actress
- Mansour Bahrami, professional tennis player and entertainer
- Darya Dadvar, soprano soloist
- Heydar Ghiai, architect
- Mahmoud Khayami, founder of Iran Khodro
- Darius Khondji, cinematographer
- Mehran Karimi Nasseri, famous refugee
- Tristane Banon, journalist and writer.
- Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari, former Queen of Iran, actress
- Darius Lahoutifard, serial entrepreneur, inventor, and author
- Shapour Bakhtiar, political scientist, writer and the last Prime Minister of Iran under king Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
- Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay
- Bahram Aryana, former military commander under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
- Patrick Ali Pahlavi, member of the Pahlavi dynasty
- Aravane Rezaï, professional tennis player
- Philippe Khorsand, actor
- Mahyar Monshipour, boxer
- Djahanguir Riahi, 18th-century French furniture collector
- Marjane Satrapi, graphic novelist
- Abbas Gharabaghi, the last chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces as well as deputy commander-In-chief of the Iranian Imperial Army during the rule of the Pahlavi dynasty.
- Abolhassan Banisadr, politician, economist and human rights activist
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