If Iranians aren’t Arab, what are they?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 18, 2020 05:28 AM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 18, 2020 05:28 AM

It’s actually not totally correct to say that Iranians aren’t Arab. Some Iranians are!

Iran is a diverse country with many ethnic groups. who have been living there for a long time (as well as some who have immigrated in more recent years, especially from Afghanistan).

A slim majority (~60%) of Iranians are Persians. They’re probably whom most people think of when they say “Iranians”. Dimitris did a good job of explaining who Persians are in depth. Keep in mind that although Persian is written in the Arabic alphabet, and contains many words borrowed from Arabic, it’s actually more closely related to Hindi, Russian, and English than to Arabic.

After the Persians the largest ethnolinguistic groups are the Azeris and the Kurds. The Azeris live mostly in the northwestern part of Iran and speak a language that is very, very close to the Azerbaijani spoken in Azerbaijan and the Turkish spoken in Turkey (in fact, they can generally understand Turkish, and the Persian language refers to the Azeri language simply as “Turkish”). The Kurds in Iran, who live mostly in the western part of the country, speak a language that is similar to but distinct from the kinds of Kurdish spoken in Turkey, in Iraq, and in Syria. Kurdish is more distantly related to Persian.

After that, there are a lot of smaller groups. Some have their own provinces within Iran. Some speak Iranian languages, like the Lurs act the Gilaks; some speak Turkic languages, like the Qashqai and the Turkmen. Some are mostly urbanized and others are rural or, like the Qashqai, nomadic. Some are immigrants from Afghanistan, including the Hazara, who speak Persian but look more Central Asian.

And some, (about 2% or over a million people), as you can see in the map below, are Arab! They are concentrated in the South, around the Gulf port city of Bandar-e-Abbas, and in the oil-drilling province of Khuzestan.

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