Nashville’s Kurdish community — one of the largest in the U.S. — is holding a rally Friday in support of an independent Kurdistan. It’s expected to be the first such rally in the United States.
Kurdistan includes a region that’s currently part of Iraq, which is dealing with violent insurgents and is having increasingly strained relations with the ethnic group. Kurds already have an autonomous government in northeast Iraq and see this as a golden opportunity to break away.
Tabeer Taabur, one of the rally’s main organizers, says the thought of independence is so emotional it almost makes him cry.
“I’ve always had joyful moments in my life, but for an independent Kurdistan, to have my own recognition from the world, I mean, no other feeling compares to it,” Taabur says.
The largely Muslim Kurdish population in the Middle East is divided between four countries: Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. Camran Wani, one of the rally’s organizers, sees these divisions as artificial boundaries.
“Each of these countries really tried to annihilate the Kurds as a nation,” he says. “Kurds have gotten to the point where they say enough is enough.”
Wani says, right now, they’re just rallying for independence from Iraq. But they hope one day for Kurdistan to include the rest of the Kurdish region.
They have yet to garner official support from the United States. Secretary of State John Kerry recently urged them to remain part of Iraq.
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