PA: IN PHILA., EXPATRIATES THRIVE BUT FEEL CUT OFF FROM MUKHMAS
Inside the Mustafa family’s Sunshine Food Market at 43d and Lancaster is an ornate plaque listing Islam’s traditional 99 names of God.
Inches away are two photos of the Mustafas with Gov. Rendell and City Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell.
This juxtaposition is symbolic of the lives of the Mustafas and other Palestinians in Philadelphia: one foot in an ancient world 5,800 miles away, the other in 21st-century America.
Here that link is even stronger. Many, if not most, are “Mukhmasis” – people of Mukhmas – and they try to go back regularly, visiting relatives on the West Bank and letting U.S.-born children learn about their culture.
“Every time I walk through Jerusalem, I get goosebumps,” said Ribhi Mustafa, 31, whose father founded the West Philadelphia supermarket. “All the religions start there.”
For others, Mukhmas is about family and a community.
“It’s like you feel it’s your hometown,” said Hannan Mustafa, 32 and no relation to Ribhi, “even though I’ve lived here all my life.”
Since Sept. 11, 2001, times are tense for U.S. Palestinians, though no 9/11 terrorist was Palestinian.
“This is a small group of men who did this, not all Muslims,” Ribhi Mustafa said. “We do take part in the politics here. We’re not a violent people. . . . We came to this country, worked hard and established ourselves.”