This was the scene for parts of New York City on Thursday as reportedly thousands of Yemeni-owned shops shut down from noon until 8 at night. The masses instead gathered here, at Brooklyn Borough Hall to rally against President Donald Trump’s executive order halting immigration from seven Muslim-predominate countries, including Yemen.
Amongst the Yemeni-American business owners was Khaled Aledresi, who runs a local deli in Queens, New York. For him, closing shop was less about a loss of dollar signs and more about the cause.
“We don’t care about that business, we care about how we can support the constitution and how we can fight for our right.”
Civic, community and religious leaders gathered at the steps of the historic government building to share their story, their solidarity and their sentiment against what has become known, as the ‘Muslim ban’. The policy they say, which went into effect on the 27th of January, has inflicted harm and unjustly targeted their neighbors and families. President Trump meanwhile advocates it is “extreme vetting” and will help protect the American people from Islamic terrorists. The list of banned countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Brooklyn native Sageda came out to represent her immigrant, Sudanese-American family.
“My grandfather actually came to America to tell my mother and all of use to have a better life.”
An equal footing of American and Yemeni flags speckled the thousands in the crowd. Chants of “USA, USA” echoed and were accompanied with “No ban, No wall”, a nod to President Trump’s additional immigration vow to build a wall between the border of US and Mexico.
At 80 years of age, retiree Malak says he joined the gathering to defend the principals of the nation that he migrated to more than four decades ago.
All Yemeni-owned shops are planned to reopen on Friday as scheduled, but attendees maintain the closure is to demonstrate the economic and social vitality Yemeni’s add to New York City and the nation.