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.