Kurds find joy in a Swedish football team's success
Stockholm: Weary of war, persecution, and statelessness, Kurds rejoiced as a Swedish football club founded just 13 years ago by Kurdish immigrants won promotion to the top division.
Scores of cheering fans ran onto the pitch, dancing and waving Kurdish flags last week when Dalkurd FF beat Gothenburg's GAIS 1-0 to earn a seat in next season's Allsvenskan.
Midfielder Rawez Lawan, 30, hit the only goal 59 minutes into the game at the Domnarvsvallen Stadium in the central Swedish city of Borlange on October 28.
"Millions of Kurds are dancing with joy... it's so wonderful to give them this happiness," Lawan told TT news agency after the match.
"This means more than just football." Dalkurd's victory lifted spirits among Kurds disheartened by the continued violence in Kurdish populated areas of Turkey and the aftermath of the controversial independence referendum in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.
"I was very happy when I saw their great results," Ahmed Karim, a 35-year-old resident in Arbil, the capital of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, said.
The Kurds are a non-Arab ethnic group numbering between 25 and 35 million spread across four countries — southeast Turkey, northern Syria, Iraq and Iran — without a recognised state of their own.
"I hope they will represent Kurdish sport globally, because we in the Middle East do not have our own Kurdish (national) team," Karim added.