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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Trump's 'Mr Kurd' comment triggers disbelief on social media

Kurdish reporter says he is thrilled at all the attention and not offended by the remark 

US President Donald Trump takes a question during a news conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, US, on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. Bloomberg
US President Donald Trump takes a question during a news conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, US, on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump referred to a Kurdish reporter as "Mr Kurd" during a press conference on Wednesday, triggering a wave of discussion on social media with users divided over the seemingly off-hand remark.

During the session, Mr Trump called on Kurdish TV reporter Rahim Rashidi by saying "Yes, please. Mr Kurd, go ahead".

Moments earlier, Mr Trump had answered a question from another Kurdish reporter, first asking if he was Kurdish. He then proceeded to call Kurds, “great people, great fighters”.

The exchange prompted a presidential address on the ethnic group – who are largely found in the Middle East. He expressed his gratitude towards the Kurdish soldiers who fought alongside US troops against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

"They fought with us. They died with us, they died," the president said.

The Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East and are the largest stateless nation in the world. There are roughly 30 million ethnic Kurds scattered over Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria.

The response from Mr Trump was overtaken by the social media frenzy, as people wondered whether the had heard the president correctly, whilst others labeled the incident as racist.

Despite that many took to social media to brand Mr Trump's remarks as insensitive, the reporter in question says he sees the new nickname as a badge of honour.

Mr Rashidi didn’t seem disturbed by the comment and thanked Mr Trump for allowing him to ask the question.

In an interview afterwards, Mr Rashidi said he is thrilled at all the attention. "I love it. He made me very happy by this sentence," he said

Today, Kurds form a distinctive community, united through race, culture and language, even though they have no standard dialect.

Mr Trump addressed an array of topics during the press briefing, taking on questions from the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh to his stance on China and the ongoing tensions in the Middle East between Palestine and Israel.

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