Hundreds of Yemeni-owned bodegas and grocery stores across NYC’s five boroughs from Harlem to Hollis plan to shut their doors Thursday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., strike organizers say, in protest of President Donald Trump’s recent executive order barring travel to the U.S. from Yemen and six other Muslim-dominant nations.
Strikers “will be hanging signs on their windows about what they’re doing,” co-organizer Debbie Almontaser told Patch, so that “their neighbors and allies can join them.”
Here’s what the signs will look like:
Thursday’s strike “will be a public show of the vital role these grocers and their families play in New York’s economic and social fabric,” organizers wrote on Facebook. Many Yemeni business owners in NYC have been “directly affected” by the ban, organizers wrote, and will use the eight hours off work Thursday to “spend time with their families and loved ones to support each other.”
Strikers also plan to hold a rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn at 5:15 p.m., where they’ll observe a call to prayer and share personal stories on how the ban has affected them and their families.
Around 500 Yemeni business owners had confirmed they’d join the strike as of Wednesday evening, Almontaser said. And based on the number of Yemeni-owned businesses in NYC, she and other organizers expected the final number of participants to surpass 1,000.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he plans to attends the rally at Borough Hall.
“According to community leaders, there are an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 small businesses owned by Yemeni-Americans living in New York City, reflecting a population that has grown out of Downtown Brooklyn in the last half-century,” Adams said.
“As a result of the White House’s action,” he said, “many local families have been split apart, with loved ones detained, sent back, or not allowed to enter on an existing green card or visa.”
One of the local Yemenis affected was identified by the U.K. Guardian as Mohamed Muezeb, 47, a bodega owner in Ridgewood, Queens. He told the Guardian over the weekend that his 17-year-old daughter called him sobbing from the Qatar airport Saturday, where she was stranded under Trump’s order. Muezeb said he saved up all his savings to buy his daughter and 15-year-old son plane tickets to America after waiting four years for their permanent residency applications to be approved (which they were).
“I feel like somebody has killed me,” the bodega owner said. “I’ve been here for 27 years, and this is how I am treated?
“I think what he [Trump] is doing is wrong to people like me who are American,” Muezeb said. “These are innocent people. It’s not good for the country. All I wanted was to see my kids and this is what happened.”
Lead photo by Paul Lowry/Flickr