Kurds in Nashville

We had a great stop in Nashville visiting Vanderbilt a couple of times, several Mosques, caught some bluegrass music at the historic Station Inn and we got a chance to meet up with several members of the Kurdish community, both at the restaurant in the video below and at the Salahuddin Islamic Center. Salahuddin, of course, is a hero of the Kurds. A Kurdish Muslim, he was the Sultan of Egypt and Syria and led the resistance against the crusades, even conquering Jerusalem. He led with such honor and decency, even to his enemies, he is a hero throughout the Muslim world.

The Kurds have their own language and culture, and hail mostly from Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Syria, in an area generally known as Kurdistan. The first Kurds came to US after WWI, then in several waves since. Some Kurds came to the US after a failed revolution in Iraq, some went to Iran. Many more came after the Kurds supported Iran in the Iran-Iraq war, and Saddam Hussein retaliated, attacking villages with chemical weapons and some more after Hussein invaded Kuwait. Now, the largest Kurdish community in the United States is in Nashville.

How did they end up in Nashville? Well, they are a close knit community with a strong culture. They were at first, spread throughout the country but eventually some Kurds were able to establish themselves in Nashville with great success in business. The weather is also similar to Kurdistan and they enjoy the family environment. So, word spread and now they are a huge community.  The Kurdish people are able to unify across nationalities in Nashville, unlike overseas where they are spread throughout several countries. The estimates are a little foggy but guess puts the population somewhere between 10-15,000 Kurds in Nashville with more than 100,000 in the US.

Imam Salah Osman gave a great quote when we asked him about living in America: “We are proud to be Americans. We come from a place where we are treated as second level humans. We have rights here”. It was great to see a “little Kurdistan” forming in Nashville. I was impressed with the pride and dignity in which they carry themselves. Please see the video for more information.

Jonathan Hayden

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34 responses to “Kurds in Nashville

  1. I suspect many americans don’t want to learn about Muslims and Islam. Most of these people are either terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. When the next attack occurs on US soil these primitives will be dealt with the way they should have been after 9/11. I have nothing but hatred for Muslims and Islam. It is a wicked, false religion thought up by a depraved murderer.

  2. These people are doing the same thing they do in Europe. They move into an area, and gradually take over until it becomes a mini copy of their native land. They do not assimilate, and use the freedoms granted by our Constitution to subvert our way of life. The ultimate goal is the imposition of sharia law, and any Muslim who denies this is lying through their teeth. If they don’t wish to assimilate I say send them back to where they came from.

  3. I am truly hurt, and appalled by what Mr. Diggler had to say. Unfortunatly this close minded view is plentiful in our country and I wish your team nothing but the best in your efforts to inform and enlighten those who may not have had the opportunity to reach beyond their own skin color. The comments made were obviously from someone just as radical in their own dogma as those he claims “would destroy our country”. He has no understanding or knowledge of any aspect of the world outside his arms reach. I hope his outragious attitude and ignorant comment does not sued you in your persuits nor hurt your opinions of true southern hospitality.
    I love your project and its goals and give you all the encouragement in the world! You are more then welcome in my home in Memphis anytime.

  4. Your work is important and, as a native-born American of European/Christian descent, I am very pleased to read about it.

    Throughout American history, immigrants have come to our shores and established enclaves where they could help one another. Irish in Boston, Chinese, Italians, and Russians in New York, Poles and Ukrainians in Chicago, Armenians in Los Angeles – the list is endless.

    I wish the Kurds well, in Nashville and elsewhere. Your hard honest labor and strong families are the lifeblood of this country.

  5. People say ugly things in the anonymity of the internet that they would never dare say to someone face to face. Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = ***hole. Many of these types of people are ill-adjusted, lonely paranoiacs upset that so many Muslims in America are more successful and educated than they are and live more happy, fulfilling lives.

    “Send them back to where they came from,” is something you can read over and over again on blogs, Youtube comments, news article comments, forums, etc frequented by trolls and cranks who get their kicks playing internet toughguy behind anonymous screen names.

    If everyone who does not assimilate with the values of the country must “get out” where should all the Dirk Digglers and anonymous trolls be sent to? As far as I know, hatred of entire religions is not an American value I was taught anywhere.

  6. Hi,
    Came to your blog via the article on Arab, Alabama on cnn.com. So pleased! Congratulations on your work and congratulations to the people of America. For years now we have been bashed–often by our own people–for being “rascist”,”intolerant”, etc., etc. That hasn’t been my experience of this country and I am glad someone is saying the same thing! Of COURSE there are the haters, at root in fear. Islam as well as Christianity are universalist religions–meaning not tied to an ethnicity–and the two share many common values, i.e. generosity and non-materialism, humanistic values of forgiveness and love and charity as being more important than status or making more and more money). I hope than our Muslim brothers and sisters understand why and where the fear and suspicion come from–unfortunately, there have been some good reasons–and I encourage them to continue to share with us what is beautiful and good about their religion and values and to make the links with what we share in common. The article and hearing about your project and the findings made my day! In spite of the comments of Mr. Diggler here!

  7. Hi:

    Could someone please ask these good people that you guys are interviewing why minorities in Muslim dominated nations are treated like dirt ? Wherever Muslims emigrate, they never fail to paint themselves as underdogs. However, put them in charge and see the difference! An ancient monastery, Mor Gabriel, in Turkey, is going to be usurped by the surrounding Turkish/Kurdish villages. The Christians in those parts, survivors of Genocide in WW1, existed before the advent of Islam. ask these Kurds how many of those Christians were treated brutally by them or others like them? Werent Christian children kidnapped and brainwashed in madrasas? Compared to that, what has happened to Muslims around or after WW1 at the hands of the West? Crusades affected both muslims and indigenous Christians of the affected areas, so they cant use that excuse as a reason for ill-treatment of the surviving Christians (Syriac or otherwise) in Turkey. Will these hypocrites ever admit their own wrongs and/or correct them? It has been my observation that muslims will wage Jihad for anything they consider threat to their faith but will not hesitate in crushing minorities like worms. is this their humanity or the basis of their faith?

  8. I saw the cnn.com article about your groups travels and studies to highlight how America responds to Muslims in general. Overall I support your efforts to bring information to the American public. I guess my only concern is that you highlight how difficult it is for some in the public to accept the Muslim religion but it interest me to wonder if the woman portraying a muslim were to try and practice her true religion (christianity) in a truly muslim country (say Iran) how the reaction might be to her. And please don’t try and say it would be ok, that would be an opinion with no empirical data to support it. My point is you are telling only have the story, if you don’t do the same in a Muslim country. But as I said at first your efforts to educate the American public are to be applauded. God bless you. And I can say that because Yaweh, God and Allah are one and the same given all three major religions are based in the old testatment.

  9. Nice concept. However, I believe your experiment has no merit. We have proven for years that America is willing to accept almost anyone (Jew, Asian, European, etc.). This doesn’t mean there hasn’t been rough spots during the process.

    I’ve been to the Middle East, Europe and Central America. Until Arab cultures are willing to accept Christians, Jews and others with differing views; without persecution; you experiment is a total waste of time.

  10. This is amazing what you are doing. I live in a very small town in Southern Virginia. We have an even smaller masjid. I converted to Islam about 3 years ago and started wearing hijab. I work for a bank, so it was a big change for my customers as well as me. I still hear things like “why are you wrapped up”, “are you cold”, etc. Halloween week draws planty comments as well. But generally, people are positive. I am often questioned about being white and muslim, as if that’s not possible. :) I am asked a lot of questions about my belief and practices, but people have been so nice. My family has as well. I was so afraid at first, but since then I have never looked back. I can’t imagine life any other way now. I am quite officially one of about five women in my town to wear hijab, but we are a very proud minority. :) Thanks again for the work you are doing and I hope this information and sharing continue on.

  11. Kurds are mountain boys with a well-known reputation among the military as tough go-to-hell fighters. I would think they would fit right in in Tennessee.

  12. The south is home to many hundreds of thousands of Muslims. Like they do in almost every respect, the American south gets a terribly bad rap and reputation. You’ll not find a more genuine, generous, and REAL people anywhere in the United States. I admire this project that you are on. I do have a suggestion, however. Change the experiment where you have young Americans venture into San Francisco or Soho or Portland, Maine or Seattle Washington wearing “republican” or “Bush/Cheney” clothes. I guarantee you will see a much more hostile, angry and nasty, and, I dare say viloent reaction from the people. Trust me, they certainly won’t be as kind as anyone in the south is towards our Muslim, Arab, Persian, Kurdish brethren.

  13. and, yes, beat me for the typo – “violent reaction”. (yes, I did a copy/paste from the previous post to highlight the idea) :)

  14. Many cultures have some to America and not assimilated. The town I live in, in central Texas, has a large Vietmanese community with many who do not speak any english, as well as a Chinese community that does much the same. In fact, there’s a rather large shopping center with many shops’ signs not in english and a few with signs in the windows stating nobody inside speaks english.

    If I immigrated to another country I would likely seek out a community of ex-pats and depending on the country I may not assimilate into their culture simply b/c I’m quite happy with my own.

    I drive by a Mosque just about every day here and their marquee quotes the quaran and it’s just as offensive as when churches quote the bible (i.e., not at all). Sometimes the messages are startling though, such as when they congratulated us on the anniversary of our savior’s birth.

    Given all that goes on in the world, I -do- have to ask myself quite seriously “What are they really teaching inside those walls?” It’s an honest question based on concern and a concern I’d not fault anyone for having, including those inside the walls wondering about how we’ll treat them the next time someone decides to blow something/someone up in the name of Islam.

    While some passages of the Quaran are to-my-mind questionable, there are equally questionable ones in the Christian Bible. Much depends on how you read them and what you attach to them. To lump all Muslim together because some decide to become terrorists is as absurd as to lump all Christians together b/c of what Catholics and Protestants did to each other in Ireland, or for (as some do) to brand today’s Christians with the Crusades.

    I find it hard to doubt that some insular communities are doing precisely what Diggler said (“These people are doing the same thing they do in Europe. They move into an area, and gradually take over until it becomes a mini copy of their native land.”) as there’s a fair amount of evidence to back it in some cases; however, given the number of communities in Europe and America that show no signs at all of this type of behavior, to label all communities with this goal fails the common-sense test as quickly as “the Jews are trying to take over the world and run it via the banking system.”

    Prejudice is a survival characteristic and no one should be demonized for it; however, bigotry differentiates itself from ‘reasonable prejudgement of available data’ when it refuses to seek and to learn, and if prejudgement found to be fault, to change.

  15. aveen abdulla

    it was very hard for our parent to leave their people in
    iraq just to come here

  16. Thank you for your great efforts

    Im really confused with what this people say down in their comments.

    Kurds are not all muslims there are many christians and ezidies and jews.

  17. My name is aram
    Iam Kurdish from North Iraq

    From Denmark and soon i will come and be an american Citizen
    when i be 19. years old

    sorry my english is bad

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  19. I worked at a school in south Nashville where many Kurdish students live. In general (with few exceptions) the Kurdish students were well-behaved and many of them DO assimilate and dress and act like American children. All the ones I knew were Muslim, but they were respectful of those who weren’t, and I appreciated that. In many ways they were like the people in my primarily Christian community: they were VERY family-oriented and religious. I pray for them and I am enriched for knowing them.

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  21. Kurds are good and friendly people and Islam is not definition for kurds while Kurds are not all muslims ,there are so many
    christians and jews living together just like a big family. I’m Christian and I’m comfortable with kurds in Kurdistan , I have many Muslim and Jew friends , I have been in US , Europe , Iran , Turkey , and many more countries but I have never seen good and friendly people as kurds.
    You better read enough about American history before saying “Send them back to where they came from,”!

  22. One of the finest people I know is a young muslim man who took immaculate care of me, an American, for 14 months after a stroke. Never complaining and always eager to make my life comfortable and as easy as possible, He is the best Christi\an I have ever met. The young imam that visited me often and brought food and loved me like a brother shall always be well rermembered too!!

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  27. Ask any Kurd from Turkey about the brutal take-over of their native lands by the Turks, the outlawing of their language, the pepper on the tongues of six year old children for even whispering their native language in school and an intelligent person can easily draw a parallel between how the Native Americans were treated by a “Christian” nation.

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