Kurds in the United Kingdom
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Kurds in the United Kingdom

Kurds in the United Kingdom
Total population
49,841 (2011 census)
British English, Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic, Persian
Islam (majority Sunni, minority Alevi)
Related ethnic groups
Iranian peoples

Kurds in the United Kingdom refers to people of Kurdish origin born in or residing in the United Kingdom.


Kurdish people first arrived in Britain in large numbers during the 1980s,[1] mostly from the disputed territories of Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria), many of them fleeing oppression.[2]


Population size

According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, drawing on a BBC source, the Kurdish community in the UK numbered around 50,000 in 2002, among which Iraqi Kurds make up the largest group, exceeding the numbers from Turkey and Iran.[3] They have settled across the country, including in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, and Glasgow.[4][5]

"Kurdish" is not one of the predefined tick-box answers for the ethnicity question on the UK Census, but respondents are able to write in their preferred self-designation.[6] In the 2011 Census, the number of respondents writing in "Kurdish" was 47,871 in England, 1,106 in Wales,[7] 844 in Scotland[8] and 20 in Northern Ireland.[9] The number of people in England and Wales that speak Kurdish as their main language was recorded as 48,239.[10] In Scotland, the figure was 924.[11]

Population distribution

Region Ethnic Kurdish population, 2011 census[7][8][9] % of total ethnic Kurdish population
Greater London 20,988 42.11%
West Midlands 6,121 12.28%
Yorkshire and the Humber 5,723 11.48%
North West England 4,808 9.65%
East Midlands 3,108 6.24%
South East England 2,446 4.91%
East of England 2,315 4.64%
North East England 1,221 2.45%
South West England 1,141 2.29%
Wales 1,106 2.22%
Scotland 844 1.69%
Northern Ireland 20 0.04%

Integration issues

There have been reports about discrimination and cultural problems among Iraqi Kurds.[12] There have also been honour killings among the Kurdish diaspora in the UK.[13] Writing in 2009, criminologist Aisha Gill noted that little research had taken place into honour crimes in the UK, and that this lack of evidence was "particularly marked in the case of Iranian and Kurdish communities, where the incidence of honor crimes is increasing".[14]

A report published by the Centre for Gender and Violence Research at the University of Bristol and the University of Roehampton in 2010 notes that "it is important to recognize that it is not possible to associate honour-based violence with one particular religion...or culture", but also concludes that "[h]onour-based violence remains prevalent in Kurdish communities in different locations", including the UK. The report finds that "the patriarchal or male-dominated values that underpin these communities often conflict with the values, and even laws, of mainstream UK society. This makes it particularly hard for second or third generation women to define their own values...Instances of HBV [honour-based violence] often result from conflicting attitudes towards life and family codes".[15] Banaz Mahmod, a 20-year-old Iraqi Kurd woman from Mitcham, south London, was killed in 2006, in a murder orchestrated by her father, uncle and cousins.[16] Her life and murder were presented in a documentary called Banaz: A Love Story, directed and produced by Deeyah Khan. Other examples include the first honour killing to be legally recognised in the UK, which was that of Heshu Yones, who was stabbed to death by her Kurdish father in London in 2002 when her family discovered she had a Lebanese Christian boyfriend,[17] and the killing of Tulay Goren, a Kurdish Shia Muslim girl who immigrated with her family from Turkey.[18] The Centre for Gender and Violence Research report finds that: "Both HBV survivors and women's NGOs working with them continue to encounter inadequate responses and poor practice which needs to be addressed, as well as potentially racist, judgmental and stigmatizing attitudes".[15] The Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation has called for a national strategy to address the problem of honour killings.[19] Other UK-based Kurdish organisations attempting to tackle the issue of honour killings include Kurdish Women Action Against Honour Killing.[14]

Notable Britons of Kurdish descent

See also


  1. ^ "To whom do I turn when I am invisible?: The experience of Kurdish workers who have problems at work?" (PDF). London Metropolitan University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2010. Retrieved 2009.
  2. ^ "Recording Kurdish history in London". Untold London. 9 March 2006. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  3. ^ Communities and Local Government (2009), The Iraqi Muslim Community in England: Understanding Muslim Ethnic Communities, Communities and Local Government, p. 35, ISBN 978-1-4098-1263-0, archived from the original on 19 September 2012
  4. ^ "Kurdish culture in the UK". Kurdish Human Rights Project. January 2006. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 2009.
  5. ^ Dissanayake, Samanthi (9 December 2008). "UK Kurds fight separate battles". BBC News. Retrieved 2008.
  6. ^ "Ethnic Group". Office for National Statistics. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Table CT0010EW 2011 Census: Ethnic group (write-in responses), local authorities in England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Ethnic group (detailed): All people" (PDF). National Records of Scotland. 2013. Retrieved 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Ethnic group - Full detail: QS201NI". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Retrieved 2015.
  10. ^ "Twenty largest non-English main languages by number of speakers in England and Wales, 2011". ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE). 16 October 2013. Archived from the original on 21 May 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  11. ^ "Language used at home other than English (detailed): All people aged 3 and over" (PDF). National Records of Scotland. 2013. Retrieved 2015.
  12. ^ "Kurds in Hull". The Guardian. 23 January 2006. Retrieved 2016.
  13. ^ Ghosh, Palash R. "Honor Crimes in Britain Far More Prevalent than Formerly Thought". International Business Times. Retrieved 2011.
  14. ^ a b Gill, Aisha (2009). "Honor Killings and the Quest for Justice in Black and Minority Ethnic Communities in the United Kingdom". Criminal Justice Policy Review. 20 (4): 475-494. doi:10.1177/0887403408329604. S2CID 145648755.
  15. ^ a b Begikhani, Nazand; Gill, Aisha; Hague, Gill; Ibraheem, Kawther (November 2010). "Final Report: Honour-based Violence (HBV) and Honour-based Killings in Iraqi Kurdistan and in the Kurdish Diaspora in the UK" (PDF). Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol and Roehampton University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2017. Retrieved 2016.
  16. ^ "Banaz Mahmod 'honour' killing cousins jailed for life". BBC News. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 2015.
  17. ^ Rose, Jacqueline (5 November 2009). "A Piece of White Silk". London Review of Books. 31 (21): 5-8.
  18. ^ Bingham, John (17 December 2009). "Honour killing: father convicted of the killing of Tulay Goren". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  19. ^ Talwar, Divya; Ahmad, Athar (9 July 2015). "'Honour crime': 11,000 UK cases recorded in five years". BBC News. Retrieved 2016.
  20. ^ Dogus, Ibrahim (22 May 2018). "My journey to become deputy mayor of Lambeth shows London is a land of opportunity". LabourList. Retrieved 2018.
  21. ^ "Ibrahim Dogus officially named first Kurdish mayor of south London borough". Kurdistan24. 24 April 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  22. ^ Nelson, Craig (17 October 2014). "We're all one big happy family, says Bury stopper Shwan Jalal". Bury Times. Retrieved 2015.
  23. ^ Devi, Sharmila (9 November 2013). "Britain's Only Kurdish MP: Kurdistan a Beacon of Hope for Region". Rudaw. Retrieved 2015.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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