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French Iranians or French Persians comprise immigrants from Iran to France, and their French-born descendants of Iranian national background.

French Iranians/French Persians
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)
Non-religion, Shia Islam, Christianity, Bahai Faith, Other



Early historyEdit

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.[2][3][4][5] A statue of him was erected in Avignon expressing the city's gratefulness to him.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

Early 20th centuryEdit

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12]

After the Iranian RevolutionEdit

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.[13] 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.[14]

Iranians in France:[15][16]
Year 1975 1980 1990 2003 2004 2006 2009
Persons 3,300 13,193 15,209 11,609 10,974 ~15,000

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ OECD 2004
  2. ^ Dédéyan 2007, p. 919.
  3. ^ Henri, Michel (2000). "Հայազգի ժան Ալթենը՝ Ֆրանսիայում բամբակի և տորոնի մշակության առաջնեկ [Armenian J. Althen - a Pioneer of Adoption of the Cultivation of Cotton and Rubia tinctorum in France]". Patma-Banasirakan Handes (in Armenian) (2): 188–195. ISSN 0135-0536.
  4. ^ United States Department of Agriculture (1848). Annual Reports of the Department of Agriculture ... : Report of the Secretary of Agriculture. Reports of Chiefs. United States Government Printing Office. p. 192.
  5. ^ Bradshaw, George (1807). Bradshaw's Illustrated Hand Book to France. London. p. 110.
  6. ^ Sayyāḥ, Muḥammad ʻAlī (1999). An Iranian in Nineteenth Century Europe: The Travel Diaries of Haj Sayyah, 1859–1877. Bethesda, Maryland: Ibex Publishers. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-936347-93-6.
  7. ^ FRANCE xvii. Persian Community in France - retrieved 19 October 2015
  8. ^ (Maḥbūbi, Moʾassasāt I, pp. 320-39)
  9. ^ Cronin 2003, p. 138
  10. ^ Cronin 2003, p. 139
  11. ^ Chehabi 1990, p. 194
  12. ^ Chehabi 1990, p. 104
  13. ^ Nassehi-Behnam 1991
  14. ^ Ibrahim 1987
  15. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in French) Quid Géographie humaine (France) - Étrangers en France Archived 2008-05-05 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in French) Les Iraniens de l’Ouest, CAUCAZ.COM, 2006/04/23


  • 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 (ed.), 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, archived from the original on 2005-05-11, retrieved 2008-11-10

Further readingEdit