The term Mizrahim or Edot Hamizraḥ, Oriental communities, grew in Israel under the circumstances of the meeting of waves of Jewish immigrants from Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, followers of Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Temani (Yemenite) rites.In modern Israeli usage, it refers to all Jews from Central and West Asian countries, many of them Arabic-speaking Muslim-majority countries.This broader definition of "Sephardim" as including all, or most, Mizrahi Jews is also common in Jewish religious circles.
Before the establishment of the state of Israel, Mizrahi Jews did not identify themselves as a separate Jewish subgroup.
Instead, Mizrahi Jews generally characterized themselves as Sephardi, as they follow the traditions of Sephardi Judaism (but with some differences among the minhag "customs" of particular communities).
The term came to be widely used more by Mizrahi activists in the early 1990s.
Since then in Israel it has become an accepted semi-official and media designation.
The reason for this classification of all Mizrahim under Sephardi rite is that most Mizrahi communities use much the same religious rituals as Sephardim proper due to historical reasons.