Iranians in France

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Iranians in France
Soheil Ayari.jpg
Mansour Bahrami RG 2009.jpg
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Sarah Kazemy Deauville 2011.jpg
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Marjane Satrapi Cannes 2008.jpg
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Total population

Residents of France born in Iran:[1]
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)
Shia Islam, Christianity, Bahai Faith, Agnosticism

Iranians in France comprise immigrants from Iran to France, as well as French-born people of Iranian ancestry.

Early 20th century[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

After the Iranian Revolution[edit]

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.[6] 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.[7]

Iranians in France:[8][9]
Year 1975 1980 1990 2003 2004 2006 2009
Persons 3,300 13,193 15,209 11,609 10,974 ~15,000

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]




  • Chehabi, Houchang E. (1990), Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism: The Liberation Movement of Iran Under the Shah and Khomeini, I. B. Tauris, ISBN 978-1-85043-198-5 
  • Cronin, Stephanie (2003), The Making of Modern Iran: State and Society Under Riza Shah 1921-1941, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-30284-5 
  • Ibrahim, Youssef M. (1987-12-08), "France Expelling Iranian Opponents of Khomeini", The New York Times, retrieved 2008-11-10 
  • Nassehi-Behnam, Vida (1991), "Iranian Immigrants in France", in Fathi, Asghar, Iranian Refugees and Exiles since Khomeini, United States: Mazda, pp. 102–118, ISBN 978-0-939214-68-6 
  • International migration database, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004, retrieved 2008-11-10 

Further reading[edit]