To hear the mellow twang in the voice of Nashville resident Shirzad Tayyar, you might assume he was born in Music City. Like many of his fellow Kurds, however, Tayyar came to Middle Tennessee from the Middle East as a child, and over the years of public school and community involvement, he has become as much a Nashvillian as anyone.
Or even more so, in his case, because the 29-year-old is so outgoing. He throws gatherings just to meet his neighbors, and led the first food tours of the south Nashville area known as Little Kurdistan. The city’s population of Kurds, estimated at 15,000 to 20,000, is the largest in the United States. Because of that, Nashville is a center of anxiety about President Trump’s surprise decision on October 6 to withdraw U.S. troops from the area, which many believe has allowed Turkey to begin a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds there. After widespread condemnation Trump has amended his decision somewhat, but the Kurdish community in Nashville remains worried.