Visit to Kurdish Community in London

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After the community visit to the Baraka Youth association last month, we were lucky to take our second community visit to the mainly Kurdish and Turkish Halkavi center in Hackney last week. We met Memet who welcomed us cordially.

He gave us with a lot of information concerning the Kurdish historical background from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire to the first migration to the UK in the 1970s.

Memet also pointed out the Alevies Kurds, who currently represent the majority of Kurds living in London.

The key concerns that were covered included:

  • Education: girls are more likely to perform better at school than boys, however the overall trend is a rather bad success at school which is the result of insufficient integration into the host society, for example language barriers.
  • Employment: the bad success in education may inhibit future employability; the community gives therefore some classes for children and adults to improve their skills and encourages them to go into higher education.
  • Kurdish Refugee Women: women sometimes still struggle for equal rights, due to the Kurdish traditional male dominated community but are less exposed to commit suicide than male Kurds.

In brief, we learned that Kurdish communities arrived to the UK due to their historical, political and social position in Turkey. The majority of migrants settled down in North London in the 1980s. At the beginning, the textile industry employed most Kurdish migrants, Kurds are now more likely to become professionals (professors, doctors, lawyers, etc.) compared to when they first arrived. Community centers offer classes to improve educational skills for children and adults and support equality for women, who still tend to be suffering from psychological problems more than men.

On our second visit to a community centre, all who were present could probably see some similarities between issues Kurdish and Somali migrants face and what they hope to achieve in the future. I think we all enjoyed being there learning more about the Kurdish background and Memet gave probably most of us, a lot to think about his statement ‘borders in mind and borders in reality’.

Tamara Piai

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About csdinternationalcommunityproject

The International Community Project was launched by the Centre for Study of Democracy of University of Westminster to undertake empirical research into different communities, Turkish, Somalian, Kurdish, Sudanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Latin American’s and... in London. In fact, London is a melting pot of different ethnic groups and thus an important research field for students of Politics, International Relations and Development Studies. Indeed, in the last 30 years the impact of globalisation, especially since 9/11, has meant the further integration of economics and politics, something which has generated a variety of contradictions in the world, particularly here in London. Communities in London have not been immune from this process as a range of ideas and issues including religion, nationalism, democracy, security and IR, inclusion/exclusion, gender, migration and remittance and development, have taken centre stage. This project is about looking at these issues by taking a practical approach; it will involve the students, with the Department’s guidance and support, conducting research related to Politics, IR, and Development, with the aim of unravelling the underlining reasons behind these changes and hopefully, putting forward some solutions. Students will be involved in going out into the community of choice to engage in research, in conducting an interview within that community, with a range of a wide range of people... Finally, the research can be integrated to research and interviews into students' coursework and especially, in the final year dissertation.

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