President Trump refers to reporter as 'Mr Kurd', and Kurds are delighted
An unexpected remark heard instantly around the world, surprising spectators of the U.S. President Donald Trump addressing Kurdish journalist Rahim Rashidi as "Mr Kurd" during a press conference at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday.
“Yes please, Mr Kurd. Go ahead,” Trump said to Rashidi as he called on him to ask a question about U.S. relations with the Kurds and Iranian influence in the region.
"We're trying to get along very well. We do get along great with the Kurds. We're trying to help them a lot. Don't forget, that's their territory. We have to help them," answered Trump. "I want to help them."
Rahim Rashidi didn’t seem bothered by the reference and thanked Trump for calling on him. Later, Rashidi tweeted that he was "#MrKurd & very proud."
"For POTUS (President Trump's official Twitter account) to refer to me by my Kurdish ethnicity is something I’m very proud of. The Kurdish people are always ignored, so we take a lot of pride in being recognised by our Kurdish identity," the Kurdish reporter said to Euronews on Thursday morning.
During the news conference, Trump's "Mr Kurd" reference followed with a dialogue with another foreign reporter who told the president he was Kurdish, and Trump said, "Good. Good. Great people! Great fighters. I like them a lot."
The answer from Trump shocked the social media as people wondered whether they had heard the president correctly. The video of the conversation started circulating and “Mr Kurd” began trending on Twitter.
The Kurdish people primarily populate an area of the Middle East straddling Turkey and Iraq, Iran and Syria. Their demands for equal citizenship and autonomy have frequently put them into conflict with the governments of those countries.
In Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has led a four-decade-long insurgency, has been designated a terrorist organisation. On the other hand, in Syria, Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), the backbone of the military forces of the U.S.-led coalition, is fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS). Since Turkey considers YPG as Syrian affiliation of the PKK, the U.S. collaboration with the Syrian Kurds caused a meltdown in the diplomatic relations between the two countries.