Good neighbors

When I feel like there’s too much hate, too much “othering” in the world, I think about the Muslim enclave in our little town. And I think about the locals, the people who you might assume wouldn’t be very welcoming.

There’s a sizeable Sufi Muslim community hidden in the hills, but there’s nothing hidden about the people who worship there.

One of them owns one of the landmark buildings in the Village of Franklin and lives above the post office with his family. He’s a real-estate agent. The family also owns and operates the town’s best restaurant, The Tulip and the Rose. They have a charming video about their community and their restaurant online. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfaODx90T0c

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This is Delaware County, a rural, farming community. It’s not exactly a politically progressive area. There are more Trump 2020 signs than there are Biden signs.

I’ve only been here two years, so I don’t know how long it took, but the fact is that the Muslims are very well thought of by most of the locals. And so they should be – every single one I’ve met has been extraordinarily nice.

Today, a member of that community who owns a cafe in another town looked at a house in the village that is being sold by one of the town’s oldtimers. The two of them struck up a conversation about restaurants. It looked as though they could have talked all day.

When the potential buyer left, the seller turned to me. I braced myself. He was a 9-11 first responder. I had no idea what was coming.

“They’re really nice people,” he said. “And this is a great street. I think his family would be very happy here.”

For a moment, just for a moment, I could believe in humanity again.


Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.