Yemeni bodegas go on strike, rally in Brooklyn to protest Trump’s Muslim travel ban

Crowd gathering early at Brooklyn Borough Hall

February 2, 2017 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A large crowd began gathering two hours early for a rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall to protest President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban. Photo by Mary Frost
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Yemeni business owners across all five New York City boroughs closed hundreds of neighborhood grocery stores and bodegas at noon yesterday in an eight-hour strike to protest the Trump administration’s travel ban targeting Muslims.

A large crowd began to gather two hours before a planned 4:30 p.m. rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall. (See link below this story for amazing updated photos and video of Thursday’s rally.)

“We have to let him know that what he did was unethical, unhuman, un-American, unconstitutional,” Nasser Nagi, owner of Yemen Cuisine at 145 Court St. in Cobble Hill, told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The travel ban “affects a lot of customers, family members and seven nations and beyond. Who knows, tomorrow might be other nations,” Nagi said. “Nobody knows what this man’s planning on.”

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Nagi hopes that affected immigrants will get the support of their neighbors.

“I hope so. They believe in the Constitution, they should be doing the same thing,” he said.

Ali, a customer at Yemen Cuisine, told the Eagle, “The situation is wrong, very wrong.

“In 200 years, nobody do what he do. I can’t believe what he say. I can’t believe what he do … People have to do something, you know?”

Yemen is one of the seven countries named in Trump’s controversial executive order, which bars Syrian refugees from entry indefinitely, suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days and blocks citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days — even those with valid visas from the U.S. government.

The shutdown is “a public show of the vital role these grocers and their families play in New York’s economic and social fabric,” organizers said on their Facebook page.

Closed shops hung a red, white and blue sign on their front doors and windows explaining the reason for the strike and the rally that was set for sundown at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Widad Hassan, one of the organizers, told BuzzFeed News the community began planning the action several days ago, when a couple of business owners were discussing the executive order.

Numerous groups are standing by the Yemeni merchants, including Local 1153 OPEIU (Professional Office Workers Union) and Amnesty International USA, which set up a text forwarding system to connect people directly to those with the power to end the travel ban. When people text AMNESTY to 21333, they are immediately patched through on a phone call to their U.S. senator.

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