“Between Homelands" is a series produced in partnership with students from USC Annenberg’s School for Communication and Journalism. They’re bringing us stories of people living in California who have come from afar, or who were born in the U.S. but feel like cultural foreigners.
All immigrants to this country face uncertainty, but most can rely on having an embassy or consulate.
Kurdish people, however, have no recognized nation of their own. They come from ethnic homelands without defined borders. What they call Kurdistan is split up among Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.
So, no embassy exists for them in the United States or anywhere else. In Los Angeles, Kurds are scattered across the vast Southland, in Westwood, the San Fernando Valley, Central Los Angeles and Pasadena. There’s no Kurdish equivalent of L.A.’s Koreatown or Little Ethiopia. Here, as in the Middle East, they are dispersed.
But Luqman Barwari, a restaurant owner and Kurdish Iraqi immigrant, is trying to change that. Two years ago he created Niroj Kurdish Cuisine in Agoura Hills, after leaving a decades-long career in biotech. The restaurant is an unofficial embassy, one aimed at keeping his culture alive and the local Kurdish people united.