Uncle Ahmad’s Toys

By E. William Fruge

Neighbors welcome a family of Syrian refugees to the small town of Grand Forks. Elderly Uncle Ahmad, still recovering from the trauma of civil war, rewards the kindness of his new friends with his prodigious wood sculpting talent. When a Black church displays his soul-stirring art in a fundraising event to support refugees, Ahmad’s skill becomes widely admired in the community. It also incites suspicion and islamophobia among local white nationalists. A proposal in the town council to remove a confederate statue, and the potential that a new industry will import dozens of ethnic families persuade fearful militants to take drastic measures. A struggle for dominance ensues. Will white supremacy prevail in civic life? Or will Ahmad’s artistic tributes to kindness inspire greater equality? The answers depend upon how the community sees itself.


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