Yassin Terou is a Muslim immigrant refugee who escaped persecution from his own country Syria and arrived in America in 2011, knowing little English and with very few job prospects beckoning. Arriving in Knoxville, the small Muslim community offered to provide him free food and shelter but Yassin refused - he did not want handouts, he wanted to contribute to the people who had given him a chance at life.

Yassin Terou fought prejudice with love and inclusiveness to revolutionize the people's mindset of Muslim immigrant refugees.

He began by selling sandwiches outside the mosque following the Friday prayers. Even the locals loved his food and would drop by. His future business partner was so impressed not just by the food but by how Yassin responded and interacted with the locals that he invested in Yassin in the best way possible - he helped open up a restaurant for him in 2014.

Of course, holding the trifecta of being a 'Muslim - immigrant - refugee' came with its own problems in a polarized America today and Yassin faced this stigmatization too with his restaurant being vandalized by white supremacists and hate calls that he was taking the jobs meant for 'real Americans.'

Yassin did not retaliate. But he did not sit quietly either. Instead he openly invited his attackers to come, sit down, have a meal and talk with him. He worked to make sure they could get along.

In the years since, that attitude of including and welcoming everyone has not changed. He has spoken at events conducted by the local pastors and helped bring communities together, breaking misconceptions they had about refugees while also showcasing his culinary skills. He helps the community and even outsiders, including new refugees, get a chance at life again.

Yassin Terou fought prejudice with love and inclusiveness to revolutionize the people's mindset of Muslim immigrant refugees.


"It’s my job to help people. That’s how we can keep being nice and transfer love to our kids and our grandkids. If someone helps me, I don’t want to be the last one who has been helped." 
- Yassin Terou

That attitude of welcoming all extends to the multiple branches of Yassin's Falafel House too. The aroma as you enter into any of his restaurant outlets is one of falafelsshawarmas and chickpeas; things you definitely do not associate with Knoxville, Tennessee.

The board outside greets you in bright, cheery fonts -

Yassin Terou fought prejudice with love and inclusiveness to revolutionize the people's mindset of Muslim immigrant refugees.


"Welcome All Sizes, All Colours, All Sexes, All Cultures, All Religions, All Types, All Beliefs, All People - Safe here at Yassin's Falafel House."


This restaurant I am talking about, run by an immigrant refugee in America and serving shawarmas in Tennessee.. well, it is also the winner of Reader's Digest's Nicest Place in America.


I got to chatting with Yassin Terou seeking his counsel on what it takes to be a better human being.

In times like this when race, religion and being an immigrant cause many to sadly look questionably at those differently from themselves, were you scared about being accepted?

Unfortunately we are in difficult times now more than ever but our world has always been having problems and the important thing we have to do to be part of the solution not the problem. Never be scared to be who we are. It is important to make people know us and share the love with everyone and the community will support you for sure.

You have even been invited by pastors to talk to audiences and open their minds and hearts, breaking their misconceptions. How was that experience?

I have been to community events of different faiths on multiple occasions and it one of the best things you can do. Know more people and make them know about you. I have always had a great time and encountered very interesting questions. It is important to clear the ideas and information other people have about different religions.

If you had to give some advice to the leaders of the world today to help make their country worthy of 'a Nicest Place on Earth' award, what would it be?

Maybe the best one can do is to open their hearts and mind. Go outside of their box and meet the real people.

Yassin Terou fought prejudice with love and inclusiveness to revolutionize the people's mindset of Muslim immigrant refugees.


Be open to an new and different thing they didn’t know. The most important thing - work to bring people together.

I have to ask - which are the two most popular dishes at Yassin's Falafel House which you know a newbie to your place would fall in love with?

Our menu is very small and has four different items: Falafel, Chicken Shawrma, Gyros and grilled veggies.

Yassin Terou fought prejudice with love and inclusiveness to revolutionize the people's mindset of Muslim immigrant refugees.


Number one is the Falafel and it’s for people looking for vegetarian option. Chicken Shawrma and Gyro is a great option for meat lovers.

Yassin Terou fought prejudice with love and inclusiveness to revolutionize the people's mindset of Muslim immigrant refugees.

Author's note:
This is part of my  #BlogchatterA2Z and #AtoZChallenge where I will be focusing on Real Life Heroes of Kindness and Compassion. 

Of course, I have been tracking these lovely human beings for years now and have found children as young as six years old and old women in their eighties from across the world who will restore your faith in humanity.

Want more stories of compassion to brighten up your day? Hundreds of 'Heroes of Kindness' can be found here:

Heroes of Kindness - 2017 edition
Heroes of Kindness - 2018 edition
Heroes of Kindness - 2019 edition
Heroes of Kindness - Indian edition


12 Comments

Anonymous said…
What an amazing individual! Truly worthy of the award he won.
Vineeta said…
Yassin is truly inspiring...it makes you believe that u actually may have the power to make the world a little better place...amazing work by dr Roshan as usual..Vineeta
Its very hard to find open minded people these days. Even the so called educated and cultured people are so narrow minded. Great to have such people, they make the lives of people around them easier and more enjoyable!
drcow said…
The greatest deeds come from the humblest of people. This just enforces that all you need is a big heart and not necessarily a big pocket. Thank you for sharing this.
Rachna said…
I really can't believe that such people exist!
The pictures of the victims of Syrian crisis tugs at my heart even today. Amidst all this, it feels really good to know this story. I don't know what to say except that the world needs more people like him. Otherwise the kind of world we will leave for our next generation will be worse than animal kingdom.
Unknown said…
Beautiful ❤️
Cant imagine. Why do not I ever see some kind people.
What an incredible man! We need more heroes of kindness :)

The Multicolored Diary
Shilpa said…
"Work to bring people together"..the perfect advice for the leaders of every country on our planet, if we all wish to make this a peaceful place.
Reema D'souza said…
It is really wonderful the work that he is doing despite all the hatred and opposition.
Praphul Raj said…
Kindness without boundaries