Bay Ridge

Bodega owners shutter shops to protest Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’

For some in Bay Ridge, the travel restrictions are personal

April 25, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Protesters get their point across about the travel ban ahead of the Supreme Court hearing.
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Yemeni-American bodega owners across Brooklyn shuttered their essential stores for an hour on Tuesday to protest the Trump Administration’s so-called Muslim travel ban.

In Bay Ridge, the ban is personal. Shamgah Allahabi, owner of 80th Street Deli on Fifth Avenue, pulled down the gate of his store shortly after 3 p.m. in solidarity with fellow Yemeni merchants, but also to illustrate his own anguish.

His mother, Mahlia Allahabi, 66, fled war-torn Yemen for neighboring Djibouti, but the U.S. will not give her a visa to join her son here.

Allahabi said he talks to his mother on the phone, but his son hasn’t seen her in five years, half his life.

“I feel so sad. I miss her,” the boy, Mohamed, told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The bodega strike took place on the eve of Supreme Court arguments Wednesday in Trump v. Hawaii, which will decide the legality of President Donald Trump’s executive order barring citizens from seven countries: Yemen, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Venezuela.

Critics say Trump is unfairly targeting Muslims. The Trump Administration has maintained that the president has the right to set immigration policy.

Borough President Eric Adams and Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge) joined Allahabi and members of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, Muslims Giving Back and the Pakistani American Youth Society outside the bodega.

There are approximately 4,000 Yemeni-owned stores in New York City, 1,700 of which are in Brooklyn, according to Adams’s office.

The Trump travel ban has torn families apart, separating mothers from children, Adams said. “These families are crippled. They’re not just numbers. These are lives,” he said.

Brannan recalled the discrimination his grandparents faced when they came to the U.S. as immigrants from Ireland.

“A couple of generations pass and we start acting like we own the place,” he said.

Immigration advocates said newcomers seeking refugee status are already subject to a strict vetting process. But President Trump enacted his travel ban via executive order soon after taking office in 2017, citing national security. The ban was blocked in federal court, but the Supreme Court allowed part of a rewritten ban to go into effect until a final decision is made.

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