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British Iraqis are people of Iraqi ancestry who were born in or who reside in the United Kingdommarker. The British Iraqi population is one of the biggest communities in Iraqi diaspora, only Syriamarker and Jordanmarker are home to more Iraqis. Over 60 per cent of the community are situated in the Greater Londonmarker, others based in Britain’s major cities such as Birminghammarker, Manchestermarker, Cardiffmarker and Glasgowmarker.

According to estimations by the Iraqi Embassy, the Iraqi population in the UK is around 350,000 – 450,000. However the 2001 census recorded circa 32,000 people who were born in Iraq, but the size of this ethnic group is unknown. London has a largest Iraqi community with estimations between 125,000 and 150,000 with Birmingham and Manchester following as second and third biggest cities with an Iraqi population.


Iraqis have been emigrating to Britain since the 1930s.Due to the constant turmoil in Iraqi history, many have fled and since the 1970s, thousands have sought asylum in Europe and elsewhere. For around a decade, Iraqis were one of the main nationalities among asylum seekers in Europe.

Iraq was itself a part of the British Empire at one point, and Iraqi emigration to Britain had always existed; however a proportion of Iraqis settled after attending British higher educational institutes, which are highly regarded in Iraq, and thus favourable for a graduate. However, smaller numbers emigrated, due to political reasons, before the regime of Saddam Hussein came to power, and after from 1979, the latter comprising the majority of political exiles. After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Iraqis residing once peacefully in Kuwait were displaced, and some found their way to the United Kingdom. The 2003 Invasion of Iraq has sparked trace emigration to the United Kingdom; other Middle-Eastern countries, such as Jordanmarker and Egyptmarker have received the highest volume of immigrants, which are decreasing (both in terms of emigration and exodus back to Iraq) because of the improving security situation.


See also: Lists of U.K. locations with large Iraqi populations

With the Iraqi population scattered across the United Kingdom, a survey reports specific regions with a high number of Iraqis:

Community life

The growing Iraqi community in London has made enormous contributions benefitting British society, for example, there are more than 6,000 medical doctors and consultants in the NHS. Other community members include school teachers and university lecturers.

It is safe to say that despite the British Iraqi 'community' being only a couple of generations old, there has been excellent integration into, and acceptance by, society on their part. Thus there has never existed any tension with any other group, ethnic or not, and so it is harder to ascertain a person of Iraqi origin because they have blended in to mainstream society. They do associate with, and are proud of, their roots, but live in harmony with neighbours and seek the 'best of both worlds'. In Britain some Iraqis have acquired British citizenship, whereas most others were born in the country.

Organisations and associations

The emergence of community organisations was the result of an objective reality with the increase in the number of Iraqis in the eighties. The Iraqi Community Association was the first Iraqi-wide, non sectarian organisation to be formed in 1987, soon to be followed by many local and national organisations as well as professional, gender, cultural and others. The Forum for Iraqi Community organisation has more than 16 organisations in its membership including the Iraqi Community Association, the Kurdish Cultural Centre, the Iraqi Women’s League, the Committee For Support of Democracy in Iraq, Chaldo-Assyrian Community, Liberal Faylee Kurds Organisation, The Mandaean Association, the Kurdish Association, academics, writers, journalists, youth, students and so forth.

In London, the Kurdish Cultural Centre and the Iraqi Association are the two major Iraqi organizations which are recognized by almost all Iraqis. There are Iraqi organisations outside London, but these often lack financial support.

In more recent times, Iraqi youth have been active in trying to stop the sectarianism in Iraq affecting the British Iraqi community and as such have set up organisations, like the Iraqi Youth Foundation.

Businesses and restaurants

There are many Iraqi restaurants located throughout London, most notably Baghdad located in Bayswater which serves a variety of Iraqi dishes. Another popular restaurant is Al Afendi. Other favourites outside London are Mesopotamia in Wembleymarker. Ironically, despite the presence of Iraqis in Leedsmarker,West Yorkshire for well over thirty years, no eatery of their own culinary culture had ever been opened in the city until around 2004, when Kurds opened the 'Gzing, a restaurant in Burmantoftsmarker. The restaurant serves traditional-style Iraqi/Kurdish cuisine, and is popular with people of all cultures. In nearby Harehillsmarker, there is a similar restaurant called 'Sumer'.


Although the majority of Iraqis are Muslim, there are also Christians and Jews.

Notable individuals

Household names in Britain include Selim Zilkha, the founder of Mothercare; Saatchi & Saatchi, one of the most successful advertisement agencies in the world; Zaha Hadid, the prominent internationally known architect and Alan Yentob, controller of BBC1.

See also

External links


  1. BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » You expected maybe the Donald Rumsfeld fan club?
  2. 403 Forbidden
  3. Iraqis present since 1930
  4. Iraqi Association
  5. British Iraqi Associations

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