Reports of discrimination against Arabs, particularly in Abadan and Tehran; information on the "Khalgh-e Arab minority" in Tehran (1990-2001) [IRN38113.E]

Information on the discrimination against Arabs in Iran is limited. A 25 August 1994 UPI article reported that the United Nations Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities called on Iran to "stop persecuting" the Arab minority. The Mideast Mirror reported that Iran "oppresses its Sunnite and Arab Shiite minorities" (7 Feb. 1995), while a December 1996 Antisemitism and Xenophobia Today report stated that "as in previous years, Iran's treatment of Christian, Kurd and Arab minorities was heavily criticized by human rights agencies in 1996." None of the reports provide additional details.

According to a September 1997 Human Rights Watch report, Arabs constitute 70 percent of the population of the Iranian province of Khuzestan. The report states that since 1995 more than 180 Iranian Arabs were detained and prosecuted on charges of espionage for Iraq or other Gulf Arab states, and like others held for suspected political offences, were "held in indefinite pre-trial detention without access to lawyers, vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment, and without access to fair judicial processes" (ibid.). The report also stated that Iranian Arabs "have grievances over restrictions on their political organizations, on their language and culture, and on their right to participate effectively in decisions affecting the areas in which they live" (ibid.).

The January 2001 Background Paper on Refugees and Asylum Seekers from the Islamic Republic of Iran mentions no instances of discrimination against Arabs in Iran.

Information on discrimination against Arabs in Abadan or Tehran in particular could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

No reference to a "Khalgh-e Arab minority" group (various spellings used) could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Antisemitism and Xenophobia Today (AXT). December 1996. Iran. [Accessed 21 Nov. 2001]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). September 1997. Vol. 9, No. 7(E). Iran: Religious and Ethnic Minorities: Discrimination in Law and Practice. [Accessed 20 Nov. 2001]

Mideast Mirror [London]. 7 February 1995. Vol. 9, No. 26. "Iranian 'Meddling' in Bahrain Linked to Broader Regional Goals." (NEXIS)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 1 January 2001. Background Paper on Refugees and Asylum Seekers from the Islamic Republic of Iran. [Accessed 21 Nov. 2001]

United Press International (UPI). 25 August 1994. BC Cycle. "U.N. Group Condemns Iranian Terrorism." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

IND Country Assessments 2001.


US Department of State Background Information on Foreign Terrorist Organizations

US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs


Internet sites including:

Amnesty International

Iranian Human Rights Working Group

Middle East News

Middle East Policy Council

Minority Rights Group International

RFE/RL Iran Report