Kurdish Americans in Moorhead Celebrate the Independence Referendum

A vote on September 25th will decide if their home country becomes an independent nation

MOORHEAD, Minn. — Hundreds of Kurdish Americans from across the Valley are celebrating what may become Independence Day in their home country.

They first came to Moorhead in the 1970’s as refugees.

Many of them came here to escape persecution.

Oppressing forces have been at odds with Kurdistan for more than 100 years.

At Gooseberry park, a Kurdish community with deep roots in Moorhead are celebrating their first chance at having a free home country.

“We hope,” said Pireza Mosaei. “That’s all our Kurdish dream, for a hundred years.”

On September 25th, an independence referendum goes to the vote in Iraqi Kurdistan to decide if it becomes its own country.

“I haven’t gone back to see my family for 27 years,” Mosaei said. “I haven’t seen my old families. So that’s our hope, to go someday go visit and be free.”

The gathering in Moorhead attracted international reporters.

“We are the largest population without a country,” said Nazar Habib of Moorhead, a singer and musician at the event. “I feel that we deserve it as Kurdish people.”

Experts told us an independent Kurdistan doesn’t only benefit their people, but it would help in the fight against ISIS.

“They were the victims under Saddam Hussein and now they’re being the heroes in the battle against Islamic State,” said Bob Brenneman, a professor at North Central University Professor. “They are the ones that have protected Christians and Yazidis and other Muslims that don’t want to go about the ISIS philosophy. They deserve our support.”

“My family and most of the families that are here today, we have been through a tremendous amount of pain,” a speaker said to the audience from the podium.

Children held signs supporting the vote.

Musicians played songs reflecting the culture of their people.

Passerby’s who didn’t know about the event stopped by to learn about what was going on.

“The Kurds have a saying: We have no friends but the mountain,” Brenneman said.

“Many times when our enemy attack us, we escape to mountain,” said Ili Alsaadi.”Now many Kurdish people believe that not only mountain: America is also our friend.”

Kurds living in America are still able to vote on the referendum, all hopeful for its passage and hopeful their homeland gains a prosperous future.

There are at least an estimated 1,100 Kurds living in Fargo–Moorhead, the largest population in the Upper Midwest.

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