Turks in France

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Turks in France
Total population
800 000 (2014 estimate)[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
(Arabic spoken by Algerian Turks and Tunisian Turks; Bulgarian spoken by Bulgarian Turks, etc.)
Sunni Islam, Salafism

Turks in France or French Turks (French: Turcs de France; Turkish: Fransa Türkleri) refers to the Turkish people who live in France. Most French Turks either emigrated or descend from Turkey; however, there are also significant Turkish communities which arrived or descend from Algeria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Tunisia, and other former Ottoman territories.


Early Ottoman migration[edit]

The first Turks settled in France during the 16th and 17th century as galley slaves and merchants from the Ottoman Empire;[3][4] the historian Ina Baghdiantz McCabe has described Marseille as a "Turkish town" during this time.[5] According to Jean Marteilhe "…the Turks of Asia and Europe...of whom there are a great many in the galley of France, who have been made slaves by the Imperialists, and sold to the French to man their galleys… are generally well-made, fair in feature, wise in their conduct, zealous in the observance of their religion, honourable and charitable in the highest degree. I have seen them give away all the money they possessed to buy a bird in a cage that they might have the pleasure of giving it its liberty".[6]

Modern Turkish migration[edit]

France signed a bilateral labour recruitment agreement with Turkey on 8 May 1965[7] because the number of entrants from other countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal was not sufficient.[8] However, in practice, France started to recruit Turkish labourers in the 1970s, until a decision was made to halt the recruitment on 3 July 1974.[8] By 1975 there were 55,710 Turkish workers living in France,[8] this had almost quadrupled to 198,000 in 1999.[9] The majority of Turkish immigrants came from rural areas of Turkey, especially from central Anatolia.[10]


The Eiffel Tower in Paris wearing the colours of the Turkish flag during the "Saison de la Turquie en France".

The majority of Turks are mainly concentrated in eastern France.[11] There is a strong Turkish presence in Île-de-France (especially in Paris), Nord-Pas-de-Calais (mainly in the cities of Calais, Lille, and Roubaix), Rhône-Alpes (especially in Lyon), Alsace (mainly in Strasbourg) and Lorraine.[12][13] There is also a large community in Marseille.[14]

The 10th arrondissement of Paris is steeped with Turkish culture and is often called "La Petite Turquie" (Little Turkey).[15] Bischwiller, in Alsace, is often dubbed "Turkwiller" due to its large Turkish community.[16]


Official censuses[edit]

According to the French census there was 8,000 Turks living in France in 1968, this had increased to 51,000 in 1975, 123,000 in 1982, 198,000 in 1990, and 208,000 in 1999.[17][12] The French censuses only collect data based on the country of birth, therefore, these figures only identify the number of Turkish immigrants from Turkey and does not include the children of immigrants born in France who are recorded as "French" rather than "Turkish".[18] Furthermore, the Turkish population would be greater if naturalised citizens and illegal emigrants were also taken into account.[19] Turkish communities who have emigrated to France from other countries, such as Algeria (Turco-Algerians), Bulgaria (Bulgarian Turks), Cyprus (Turkish Cypriots) and Tunisia (Turco-Tunisians), are recorded according to their country of origin rather than their Turkish ethnicity.

Estimated population[edit]

In the early 2000s academics placed the Turkish population at approximately 500,000.[13][20][21] Since the 2010s, immigration flows from Turkey have been increasing faster than flows from Algeria and Morocco.[10] The Turkish population increases by approximately 20,000 each year, although in 2013 it increased a further 35,000.[2] In 2014 the L'Express estimated that there was 800,000 Turks living in France.[22] The Fransa Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam Birliği suggests that the actual Turkish population in France is about 1 million, including descendants.[23] The Armenian Weekly has also stated that "there are also about a million French people of Turkish origin".[24]

There is also a minority of Algerian Turks living in France who number in their thousands.[25]

Birth rates[edit]

Although the birth rates among Turks living in France has declined over the years they remain substantially higher than the French population. In 1982, the average number of children for Turks was 5.2, compared with 1.8 for the French population. By 1990, the average number of births for Turks was 3.7 compared to 1.7 for the French population.[26]



In 2000, Akıncı and Jisa found that Turkish is spoken exclusively at home by 77% of families, while 68% of children speak French to one another.[27] Turkish children are monolingual in the Turkish language until they start school at the age of 2 or 3; thus, they find themselves in everyday situations in which they have to speak French with their peers.[28] By the age of 10, most children become dominant in the French language.[29] Nonetheless, even for those who use French more than Turkish in their daily lives, numerous studies have shown that they still emphasize the importance of Turkish as the language of the family, particularly for raising children.[30] Thus, there is a high degree of language maintenance in the Turkish community; frequent holidays to Turkey, the easy access and use of Turkish media, and the density of social networks help maintain their language.[31]

A Turkish mosque in Nantes.


The majority of Turks adhere to Islam and focus on creating their own mosques and schools, most of which are tightly linked to Turkey. Thus, Turks worship their religion mainly with others within their community.[32] Due to Turkish immigrants having a strong link to the Turkish state and much less knowledge of the French language, compared to other Muslim immigrants who have emigrated from French-speaking countries, Turks tend to build mosques where sermons are given in Turkish rather than French or Arabic.[33]

The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB), which is a branch of the Turkish state Bureau of Religious Affairs (the Diyanet),[33] promotes a "Turkish Islam" which is based upon a moderate, rational Islam of a secular state.[34] The Diyanet has organic links to the "Coordination Committee of Muslim Turks in France", or CCMTF, (French: Comité de coordination des musulmans turcs de France)[35] which brings under its umbrella a total of 210 mosques.[36] Its major competing network of mosques is run by the Millî Görüş movement (French: Communauté Islamique du Milli Görüş de France) which emphasizes the importance of solidarity of the community over integration into French society.[33] The Millî Görüş has an estimated 70 mosques in France.[33][36]


A Turkish kebab shop in Paris

The Turkish community is considered to be the least integrated immigrant community in France,[12] largely due to their strong attachment to their country of origin.[37] However, there is increasing recognition by Turkish officials that without successful integration the immigrant community cannot lobby for the home country.[37] For example, in 2010, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressed that assimilation is different from integration and urged the Turkish community in France to integrate by applying for French citizenship.[38]


Naturalisation of Turkish citizens[39]


Discrimination against Turks in French society is seen particularly within the labour market when they are looking for jobs. Given a choice between a Turkish and a French with the same qualifications, French employers tend not to choose the immigrant applicant.[40][41]

Organisations and associations[edit]

  • Comité de coordination des musulmans turcs de France, the coordination committee for Turkish Muslims in France is linked to Turkey.[42]
  • "Fransa Türk Federasyonu", the French Turks Federation.[43]
  • "Migrations et cultures de Turquie" (ELELE), promote knowledge of Turkish immigration and helps to assist the integration of Turkish migrants into French society.[44]
  • "Le Groupement des Entrepreneurs Franco-Turcs" (FATIAD), the leading business association created by Turks living in France.[45]
  • Réseau Pro'Actif, A professional network created by second and third generations of Turks in France. It gathers graduates of the country's leading universities.

Notable people[edit]

Notable French Turks[edit]

Notable French Algerian-Turks[edit]

Some Algerians with Turkish origins have contributed to the arts, sports and politics in France. For example, Nafissa Sid-Cara, who was the first female minister to serve in the French Fifth Republic as well as the first ever Muslim woman to serve as a minister in a French government,[46] was born into a family of Turkish origin which had been established in Algeria;[47] her brother Chérif Sid Cara was also a notable politician and doctor.[47] Other notable French politicians of Algerian-Turkish origin include Mourad Kaouah[48] who served as the deputy of Algiers from 1958 to 1962 - being the only French Muslim deputy at the time.[49] Notable writers include Moroccan-born Leïla Chellabi whose father was an Algerian Turk who obtained French citizenship;[50] Mustapha Haciane was born in Algeria into a Turkish family and currently resides in Paris;[51] and Leïla Sebbar is paternally of Turkish origin through her grandmother.[52] There are also several notable sportsman of Algerian-Turkish origin, including the former pole vaulter and Olympian Patrick Abada[53] as well as footballers Benjamin Stambouli and Mustapha Stambouli. Numerous sources claim that the actress Isabelle Adjani is paternally of Algerian-Turkish origin.[54][55][56][57][58]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ L'Express (2014). "Face à l'islam de France, du déni à la paralysie". Retrieved 11 September 2016. Depuis dix ans, ce chiffre est régulièrement battu en brèche: les estimations hautes décrivent une France qui compterait 4 à 5 millions d'Algériens et descendants, autour de 3 millions de Marocains, 1 million de Tunisiens, 2 millions d'Africains du Sahel, 800 000 Turcs, etc.
  2. ^ a b Zaman France. "La communauté turque compte 611.515 personnes en France". Archived from the original on 2014-12-21. Retrieved 2014-12-21. Le nombre total des Turcs et Franco-Turcs est estimé à 800.000 avec les personnes en situation irrégulière.
  3. ^ Morrison & Gardiner 1995, 190.
  4. ^ Takeda 2011, 98.
  5. ^ McCabe 2008, 18.
  6. ^ Marteilhe 1867, 146.
  7. ^ Akgündüz 2002, 61.
  8. ^ a b c Akgündüz 2002, 101.
  9. ^ Al-Shahi & Lawless 2005, 13.
  10. ^ a b Milewski & Hamel 2010, 618.
  11. ^ LeSaout & Kadri 2002, 87.
  12. ^ a b c Hargreaves 2007, 73.
  13. ^ a b Nielsen, Akgonul & Alibasic 2009, 129.
  14. ^ Bowen 2008, 147.
  15. ^ Le Petit Journal. ""LA PETITE TURQUIE" - Balade dans le quartier turc de Paris". Archived from the original on 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2014-12-14.
  16. ^ Le Point. "Alsace le ghetto turc". Retrieved 2014-12-14.
  17. ^ Rollan & Sourou 2006, 38.
  18. ^ Milewski & Hamel 2010, 631.
  19. ^ Fadlouallah 1994, 32.
  20. ^ Hunter 2002, 6.
  21. ^ Grand National Assembly of Turkey (2009). "İnsan Haklarını İnceleme Komisyonu:Fransa Raporu" (PDF). Grand National Assembly of Turkey. p. 3.
  22. ^ L'Express. "Face à l'islam de France, du déni à la paralysie". Retrieved 2014-12-21.
  23. ^ Fransa Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam Birliği. "2011 YILI DİTİB KADIN KOLLARI GENEL TOPLANTISI PARİS DİTİB'DE YAPILDI". Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  24. ^ Armenian Weekly. "An Interview with Garo Yalic, Advisor to Valerie Boyer". Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  25. ^ Cezayir Türkleri: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nun etkili mirası, Sputnik (news agency), 2015, Bunların yanında, özellikle İngiltere ve Fransa'da olmak üzere, Avrupa ülkelerinde de binlerce Cezayir Türkü bulunduğunu belirtmek gerekiyor.
  26. ^ Al-Shahi & Lawless 2005, 27.
  27. ^ Akıncı & Jisa 2000, 318.
  28. ^ Crul 2011, 275.
  29. ^ Akıncı, Jisa & Kern 2001, 190.
  30. ^ Backus 2008, 695.
  31. ^ Backus 2008, 694.
  32. ^ Bowen 2009, 11.
  33. ^ a b c d Bowen 2009, 60.
  34. ^ Çitak 2010, 625.
  35. ^ Çitak 2010, 620.
  36. ^ a b Çitak 2010, 626.
  37. ^ a b Çitak 2010, 627.
  38. ^ Today's Zaman. "Erdoğan urges Turks in France to integrate, not assimilate". Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2011-05-31.
  39. ^ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2008, 358.
  40. ^ Crul 2007, 220.
  41. ^ Peignard 2006, 8.
  42. ^ Ministère des affaires étrangères et européennes. "The Muslim faith in France" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  43. ^ Fransa Türk Federasyonu. "Ana Sayfa". Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  44. ^ GEMMA. "GENDER & MIGRATION in FRANCE: "a brief overview"" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  45. ^ Groupement des Entrepreneurs Franco-Turcs. "Accueil". Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2011-05-26.
  46. ^ Goodwin, Stefan (2009), Africa in Europe: Interdependencies, relocations, and globalization, Lexington Books, p. 274, ISBN 0739127667.
  47. ^ a b Forzy, Guy (2002), Ça aussi – c'était De Gaulle, Volume 2, Muller édition, p. 134, ISBN 2904255494, La secrétaire d'Etat musulmane Nafissa Sidkara, d'une vieille famille d'origine turque établie en Algérie, et caution involontaire, comme son frère le Docteur Sid Cara lui aussi membre du gouvernement français....
  48. ^ Spiaggia, Josette (2012), J'ai six ans: et je ne veux avoir que six ans, Editions du Félibre Laforêt, p. 104, ISBN 2953100997, Mourad Kaoua (par la suite député d'Alger de 1958 à 1962) d'origine turque....
  49. ^ Bouyarden, Salima (2013), "Political participation of European Muslims in France and the United Kingdom", in Nielsen, Jorgen (ed.), Muslim Political Participation in Europe, Edinburgh University Press, p. 106, ISBN 0748677534
  50. ^ Chellabi, Leïla (2008), Autoscan: Autobiographie d’une intériorité, LCD Médiation, p. 237, ISBN 290953975X, Mon père, né Algérien d'origine turque, a quitté l'Algérie pour le Maroc où il a fait sa vie après être devenu, par choix, français. Mais à chaque démarche on le croit d'abord marocain puis on sait qu'il est d'origine algérienne et turque, cela se complique..
  51. ^ Déjeux, Jean (1984), Dictionnaire des Auteurs Maghrébins de Langue Française, KARTHALA Editions, p. 121, ISBN 2-86537-085-2, HACIANE, Mustapha Né en 1935 à Rouiba dans une famille d'origine turque. A 17 ans, il écrit au lycée des poèmes engagés...Réside à Paris..
  52. ^ Sebbar, Leïla (2010), Voyage en Algéries autour de ma chambre, Suite 15, retrieved 16 July 2017, mon père et lui sont cousins germains par leurs mères, des sœurs Déramchi, vieilles familles citadines du Vieux Ténès d’origine turque
  53. ^ Afrique-Asie, Issues 178-190: Sports, Société d'Éditions Afrique, Asie, Amérique Latine, 1979, p. 414, Les Jeux méditerranéens vont s'ouvrir à Alger, quand on apprend que le perchiste français Patrick Abada a émis le souhait de ... La vérité est pourtant toute simple : Abada est d'une vieille famille algéroise (d'origine turque) dont de ....
  54. ^ Oscherwitz, Dayna; Higgins, MaryEllen (2009), The A to Z of French Cinema, Scarecrow Press, p. 16, ISBN 081087038X, ADJANI, ISABELLE (1955-). Actress and producer. Isabelle Yasemin Adjani was born in Gennevilliers, Frence, the daughter of a German mother and an Algerian-Turkish father.
  55. ^ Katz, Ephraim; Nolen, Ronald Dean (2013), The Film Encyclopedia 7e: The Complete Guide to Film and the Film Industry, Harper Collins, p. 1948, ISBN 0062277111, Adjani, Isabelle. Actress. b. June 27, 1955, Paris, to an Algerian father of Turkish ancestry and a German mother.
  56. ^ Verlant, Gilles; Mikaïloff, Pierre (2011), Le Dictionnaire des années 80, Larousse, p. 14, ISBN 2035861500, Adjani(Isabelle) Née à Paris le 27 juin 1955, d'un père algérien d'origine turque et d'une mère allemande, Isabelle Adjani grandit dans la banlieue nordouest de Paris, à Gennevilliers.
  57. ^ Auzias, Dominique; Labourdette, Jean-Paul (2005), Petit Futé Hauts-de-Seine, Nouvelles Editions de l'Université, p. 35, ISBN 2746913518, Isabelle Adjani (1955). Isabelle Yasmine Adjani est née le 27 juin 1955 à Paris d'une mère allemande et d'un père algérien d'origine turque.
  58. ^ Thompson, Chantal; Phillips, Elaine (2012), Cengage Advantage Books: Mais Oui! - Volume 1, Cengage Learning, p. 13, ISBN 1111835829, Isabelle ADJANI BIOGRAPHIE Née Isabelle Yasmine Adjani, le 27 juin 1955, Gennevilliers, France Père algérien d'origine turque, mère allemande


  • Akgönül, Samim (2009), "Turks of France: Religion, Identity and Europeanness", in Küçükcan, Talip; Güngör, Veyis (eds.), Turks in Europe: Culture, Identity, Integration (PDF), Turkevi Research Centre, ISBN 90-77814-13-2[permanent dead link].
  • Akgündüz, Ahmet (2008), Labour migration from Turkey to Western Europe, 1960–1974: A multidisciplinary analysis, Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 0-7546-7390-1CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Akıncı, Mehmet-Ali; Jisa, Harriet (2000), "Development of Turkish clause linkage in the narrative texts of Turkish-French bilingual children in France", in Göksel, Aslı; Kerslake, Celia (eds.), Studies on Turkish and Turkic languages, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 3-447-04293-1
  • Akıncı, Mehmet-Ali; Jisa, Harriet; Kern, Sophie (2001), "Influence of L1 Turkish on L2 French narratives", in Strömqvist, Sven (ed.), Narrative development in a multilingual context, John Benjamins Publishing, ISBN 90-272-4134-1
  • Al-Shahi, Ahmed; Lawless, Richard I. (2005), Middle East and North African immigrants in Europe, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-34830-7CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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  • Fadlouallah, Abdellatif (1994), "Migration flows from the South to western countries", in De Azevedo, Raimondo Cagiano (ed.), Migration and Development Co-operation, Council of Europe, ISBN 92-871-2611-9.
  • Hargreaves, Alec G. (2007), Multi-ethnic France: immigration, politics, culture and society, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-415-39782-0CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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  • Marteilhe, Jean (1867), The Huguenot galley-slave: being the autobiography of a French Protestant condemned to the galleys for the sake of his religion, Leypoldt & Holt.
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  • Morrison, John; Gardiner, Robert (1995), The Age of the Galley: Mediterranean oared vessels since pre-classical times, Conway, ISBN 0-85177-955-7CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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Further reading[edit]

  • Böcker, A. (1996), “Refugee and Asylum-Seeking Migration from Turkey to Europe” Boðaziçi Journal Vol. 10, Nos. 1–2.
  • Cahiers d'Etudes sur la Mediterranée orientale et le Monde Turco-iranien (1992), special issue on Turkish immigration in Germany and France, Paris: Centre d'Etude des Relations internationales, n°13.
  • Cahiers d'Etudes sur la Mediterranée orientale et le Monde Turco-iranien (1996), special issue on Turkish migrant women in Europe, Paris: Centre d'Etude des Relations internationales, n°21.
  • Les Annales de l'Autre Islam (1995), special issue on Turkish diaspora in the World, Paris: Institut national des Langues et des Civilisations orientales, n°3.

External links[edit]