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"Londonistan" is a sobriquet referring to the British capital of London and the growing Muslim population of late-20th- and early-21st-century London.

The word is a portmanteau of the UK's capital and the Persian suffix -stan, meaning "land", used by several countries in South and Central Asia. The term has been used in a number of publications, including The New York Times,[1] Vanity Fair,[2] The Weekly Standard,[3] and in the 2006 book Londonistan: How Britain is Creating a Terror State Within.[4]

Origin of the term[edit]

According to Omar Nasiri:

The mid- to late 1990s were the years when Britain's capital earned the sobriquet of "Londonistan," a title provided by French officials infuriated at the growing presence of Islamist radicals in London and the failure of British authorities to do anything about it. [...] Raids in France and Belgium had produced phone and fax numbers linked to the United Kingdom, and names of suspects were passed on. Some French officials believe that if more had been done by Britain at the time, the network behind the summer of 1995 bombings might have been broken up and the attacks prevented.[5]

The bombings and attempted bombings, mostly in the French capital of Paris, in the summer and autumn of 1995 by Armed Islamic Group (GIA), killed eight people and injured more than 100.[6] The French observed that a number of Muslim radicals from London had connections to these bombings.[6] Around 1995, the French intelligence had coined the term "Londonistan" for the city of London.[6]

According to critics, the UK's "deep tradition of civil liberties and protection of political activists" led to the country becoming "a crossroads for would-be terrorists" for a decade after the mid-1990s. The Islamists used London "as a home base" to "raise money, recruit members and draw inspiration from the militant messages."[7] The UK Government's perceived unwillingness to prosecute or extradite terrorist suspects provoked tensions with countries in which terrorist attacks occurred. Allegations of a British policy of appeasement of Islamists were made and denied by members of the British Government who debated the issue.[8]

Late 1980s onwards[edit]

In March 2020 Jonathan Evans, Former Director General, MI5 gave an interview and commented on Londonistan: 'There are various conspiracy theories about the Londonistan period including the notion that Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) in some way gave a free pass to the terrorist sympathizers in the U.K. on the basis that they would not attack us. This is a complete fabrication. The problem was that we didn’t actually know what was going on because we were not looking. There was all sorts of stuff going on that we just were not aware of. It was not that we were deliberately turning a blind eye, just that we had not noticed'.[9]

The term has been linked to the similar Islamophobic conspiracy theory of Eurabia.[10][11][12]

In September 2023 Conservative Party candidate for the 2024 London mayoral election Susan Hall was reported to have liked a tweet that described London's mayor Sadiq Khan as "our nipple height mayor of Londonistan".[13]


With the election of Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London, Richard Seymour wrote an essay in Al Jazeera headlined "Sadiq Khan's victory and free Londonistan", claiming that the term Londonistan was being "joyfully, ironically appropriated by those who are glad to see a racist campaign defeated. Welcome to the 21st century. Welcome to free Londonistan."[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Caldwell, Christopher (25 June 2006), "After Londonistan", The New York Times, retrieved 12 December 2009
  2. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (June 2007), Londonistan Calling, Vanity Fair, retrieved 12 December 2009
  3. ^ Stelzer, Irwin M. (1 August 2005). "Letter from Londonistan". The Weekly Standard. Archived from the original on 25 July 2005. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
  4. ^ Phillips, Melanie (2007), Londonistan: How Britain is Creating a Terror State Within, Gibson Square, ISBN 978-1-903933-90-9
  5. ^ Nasiri, Omar (20 November 2006), Inside the jihad: my life with Al Qaeda : a spy's story, Basic Books, p. 16, ISBN 978-0-465-02388-2
  6. ^ a b c Barling, Kurt (8 September 2005), What's the risk to London?, BBC London, archived from the original on 1 July 2011
  7. ^ Sciolino, Elaine; Don Van Natta Jr (10 July 2005), "For a Decade, London Thrived as a Busy Crossroads of Terror", New York Times, retrieved 12 December 2009
  8. ^ "For a Decade, London Thrived as a Busy Crossroads of Terror". The New York Times. 10 July 2005.
  9. ^ "A View from the CT Foxhole: Jonathan Evans, Former Director General, MI5". 24 March 2020. Archived from the original on 4 August 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  10. ^ Kolig, Erich (2016). Freedom of Speech and Islam. Routledge. p. 69. ISBN 9781317132820.
  11. ^ Pero, Davide; Solomos, John (2013). Migrant Politics and Mobilisation: Exclusion, Engagements, Incorporation. Routledge. ISBN 9781317986515.
  12. ^ Morgan, George (2016). Global Islamophobia: Muslims and Moral Panic in the West. Routledge. p. 7. ISBN 9781317127727.
  13. ^ Spirit, Lara (15 September 2023). "Susan Hall: Tory mayoral candidate liked tweet praising Enoch Powell". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 15 September 2023.
  14. ^ Seymour, Richard (8 May 2016). "Sadiq Khan's victory and free Londonistan". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 14 June 2016.

External links[edit]

Usage in the Arabic press[edit]