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Mahabad is located in Iran
Coordinates: 36°45′47″N 45°43′20″E / 36.76306°N 45.72222°E / 36.76306; 45.72222Coordinates: 36°45′47″N 45°43′20″E / 36.76306°N 45.72222°E / 36.76306; 45.72222
Country  Iran
Province West Azerbaijan
County Mahabad
Bakhsh Central
Population (2016 Census)
 • Urban 168,393 [1]
Time zone UTC+3:30 (IRST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+4:30 (IRDT)
Area code(s) 044

Mahabad (Persian: مهاباد‎; also Romanized as Mihābād and Muhābād), (Kurdish: Mehabad : مەهاباد‎);[2] is a city and capital of Mahabad County, West Azarbaijan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 168,000 in 31,000 families.[3]

The people are Kurdish, with the city lying south of Lake Urmia in a narrow valley 1,300 metres above sea level.[4][5]


The city was founded in the Safavid period about 300 years ago, and its first name was Sablagh. Sablagh is a Turkic word meaning cold spring. Later, in the Qajarid period, the town was called Sablaghi Mukri, meaning Sablagh of the Mookri tribe, due to the residence of the Mookri tribe in the city. This was the name of the town until 1936, when the town was named Mahabad.[6][7]


Mahabad is bordered by Miandoab to the north, by Sardasht to the south, by Bokan to the east, and to Piranshahr and Naghade to the west.


Mukri Kurds participated in several wars between Safavid dynasty and Ottoman Empire, and gained more predominance. In 17th century AD, Mehabad became the seat of Mukri principality (known as Mukriyān in Kurdish and Mokriyān in Persian). Many believe Budaq Sultan Mukri, who built Mehabad's Jameh Mosque is the founder of the current town.

Modern Kurdish State in Mahabad[edit]

Mehabad was the capital of the short-lived Republic of Mehabad, which was declared independent on January 1, 1946 under the leadership of Kurdish nationalist Qazi Muhammad.

The republic received strong support from the Soviet Union, which occupied Iran during the same era. It included the Kurdish towns of Bukan, Piranshahr, Sardasht and Oshnavieh.[8]

After an agreement brokered by the United States, the Soviets agreed to leave Iran, and sovereignty was restored to the Shah in 1947. The Shah ordered an invasion of the Republic of Mehabad shortly afterwards, the leaders of the republic including Qazi Muhammad were arrested and executed.[9][10][11] Qazi Muhammad was hanged on 31 March 1947. At the behest of Archie Roosevelt, Jr., who argued that Qazi had been forced to work with the Soviets out of expediency, U.S. ambassador to Iran George V. Allen urged the Shah not to execute Qazi or his brother, only to be reassured: "Are you afraid I'm going to have them shot? If so, you can rest your mind. I am not." Roosevelt later recounted that the order to have the Qazis killed was likely issued "as soon as our ambassador had closed the door behind him," adding with regard to the Shah: "I never was one of his admirers."[12]

Islamic Republic of Iran[edit]

On 7 May 2015, ethnic Kurds rioted following the unexplained death on 4 May 2015 of Farinaz Khosravani, a Kurdish hotel chambermaid. Khosravani fell to her death from a fourth-floor window of the Tara, the hotel where she worked. Anger mounted following reports that Khosravani died attempting to escape an Iranian official who was threatening to rape her. The rioters reportedly set fire to the hotel where Khosravani worked.[13]

In 2017 thousands of Iranian police forces arrived in the city after Kurds in the region celebrated the Kurdistan Referendum.


  1. ^ Statistical. "Center of Iran > Home". 
  2. ^ Mahabad can be found at GEOnet Names Server, at this link, by opening the Advanced Search box, entering "-3073397" in the "Unique Feature Id" form, and clicking on "Search Database".
  3. ^ "Census of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1385 (2006)". Islamic Republic of Iran. Archived from the original (Excel) on 2011-11-11. 
  4. ^ S. J. Laizer, Martyrs, Traitors, and Patriots: Kurdistan after the Gulf War, Zed Books, 1996, ISBN 978-1-85649-396-3, p. 56.
  5. ^ Marion Farouk-Sluglett, Peter Sluglett, Iraq Since 1958: From Revolution to Dictatorship, .B.Tauris, 2001, ISBN 978-1-86064-622-5, p. 28.
  6. ^ Seebauer, Renate. Mosaik Europa: Diskussionsbeiträge zur ethnischen und sprachlichen Vielfalt. LIT Verlag Münster, 2006 (87)
  7. ^ The Supreme Muslim Council: Islam Under the British Mandate for Palestine – Uri M. Kupferschmidt – Google Books. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  8. ^ McDowall, David (2004). " A modern history of the Kurds. I.B. Tauris. pp. 244–245. ISBN 1-85043-416-6. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  9. ^ McDowall, David, A Modern History of the Kurds, I. B. Tauris, 1996 (Current revision at May 14, 2004). ISBN 1-86064-185-7.
  10. ^ [1] Archived September 7, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ [2] Archived April 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Wilford, Hugh (2013). America's Great Game: The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Basic Books. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-465-01965-6. 
  13. ^ "Riot Erupts in Iran's Kurdish Capital Over Woman's Death". The New York Times. 7 May 2015. 

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