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Muʿawidūn (Arabic: معاودون; literally meaning: Returnees) were Iranians settled in Iraq in 1970s who were not allowed to live in Iraq any longer as the government of Iraq had disagreements with Muhammad Reza Pahlavi's government. They were forced to leave Iraq and return to Iran. It is said about sixty thousand people were deported out of Iraq.

After the formation of Iraq in the twentieth century and before the deportation of Iranians in 1970s, the government of Iraq was seeking to arabize the country, they tried to pass laws in order to limit the presence of Iranians in their country. In 1973 about sixty thousand Iranians were deported out of Iraq. Until 1984, over a million Iranians and Shi'ite Kurds were deported out of Iraq.

Immigration of Iranians to Iraq

When Isfahan was occupied by Afghans, a large number of Shi'ite scholars migrated out of Iran in the 11th/17th century from 1134/1721 to 1176/1762 and settled in Najaf and Karbala. Gradually the centrality of the Shia Seminary moved to Iraq.

After a mass immigration of Iranians especially Shi'ite scholars to Shi'ite cities of Iraq including Najaf and Karbala, the number of Farsi speakers became higher and Iranians became influential in Baghdad and Basra. Even the influence of religious scholars and Iranian marja's in Karbala and Najaf limited the influence of Iraqi and Arab scholars.

Iranians settled in Karbala more than Najaf. Even Saddam Husayn mentioned the presence and influence of Iranians: "They (Iranians) were speaking Farsi in the mall, as if Iraq is a colony of their country."

Here are the number of clergymen in Seminary of Najaf based on their nationalities which indicates the greater number of Iranians:

Insert non-formatted text here==Facilities Provided by Ottoman Government for the Immigrants== In the beginning of the twentieth century, Ottoman government prepared proper situation for persistent presence of Iranians in Iraq.

Making Pilgrimage and Burial of the Deceased:

Based on the Treaties of Erzurum in 1823 CE between Iran and Ottoman governments, agreements were made on preparation of facilities for Iranian pilgrims and transfer and burial of bodies in holy shrines of Shi'ite Imams in Iraq.

Consular Rights of Iranians in Iraq:

Based on a treaty in 1875 the consular rights of Iranian citizens were protected and they were able to travel between cities or settle in them, under the dominance of Ottomans.

Harsh Laws of Government of Iraq about Iranians

After the independence of Iraq from Ottoman government in 1920 and formation of monarchy of Iraq in 1932, the situation became difficult for presence of Iranians in this country.

Iraqi rulers' policies were in favor of Arabization and nationalization of the country which were formed against the influence of Iranians in Iraq. They passed laws to limit the presence and influence of Iranians in the country:

Iraqi Nationality Law:

According to this law which was passed in 1924 all the Iranians settling in Iraq were regarded as Iraqi unless they withdraw until a specific time.

Ban from Employment:

According to this law passed in 1927, foreigners including Iranians were banned from employment. According to another law passed in 1929, knowing Arabic was necessary for employment of people in courts.

Ban from Work:

According to a law which was passed in 1935, foreigners were banned from commercial jobs which were mostly controlled by Iranians. According to historical researchers, the number of Iranian businessmen in the 17th century in cities of Iraq were more than the clergymen and religious scholars in seminaries of Iraq.

Expulsion of Iranians

After the conflicts between Iran and Iraq on the borderlines in 1969, the government of Iraq complained to United Nation Security Council and accused Iran of using force and threat over Arvand Rud (Shatt al-Arab). As a result, the government of Iraq expelled a number of Iranians who were settling in Iraq and their properties were confiscated.

This incident took place in the time of Ayatullah Hakim, the Marja' of Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq. After the demise of Ayatullah Hakim, a large number of Iranians, who were called Mu'awidun, were expelled in 1971. They were settled in borderline regions and cities in Iran. According to reports, they were living in harsh situations as well.

The larger part of Mu'awidun were clergymen of Najaf who were given only six days to leave Iraq or after the deadline, Iraqi police were allowed to arrest them and release them in borderline regions.


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from معاودین in Farsi WikiShia.