NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of Yemeni business owners in New York turned off the lights and locking their doors Thursday to protest the Trump administration’s travel ban.
More than 1,000 Yemeni New Yorkers and their supporters also rallied at a gathering at Brooklyn Borough Hall – many business owners among them.
Organizer Widad Hassan said the business men and women gave up eight hours of profit, closing their doors from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. About 1,000 grocery stores and bodegas across all five boroughs participated in the shutdown.
“Most store owners don’t close down their businesses even when there’s a hurricane,” Hassan told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman. “It’s definitely a sacrifice, but I think for many of them it’s more important that people are paying attention to what this ban means for them and how it’s been negatively impacting them.”
For nine months, Solomon Alaodin has manned the register at Best & Tasty Deli Grocery on East 143rd in Mott Haven. He said the store is open 24/7 and never closes its doors — except for Thursday.
“We will close and participate,” Alaodin told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones. We have to send a message, we have to show the people that we stand for them. We have families that are in the airports and back home that can’t get back here and it affects all of us.”
Alaodin said he’s always felt welcome in America, until now.
“I feel like saying we’re not welcome in this country, and this country is about freedom, it’s about land of the free,” said Alaodin. “We’ve been here for more than a decade, we haven’t been a threat to anybody, we didn’t do anything wrong, we just want to live with our family.”
Alaodin said his niece and nephew are stuck in limbo.
“They’re all in Djibouti, they just got their visas and they can’t come in because it’s banned,” Alaodin said. “I’m an American citizen, I have rights here and I want to bring them to this country.”
Adams said they’re “sending a strong and loud message” that the ban is “not acceptable, not in a country that they want to call home.”
At the rally Thursday evening with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, American and Yemeni flags waved before the Roman columns. Hundreds knelt for a sundown prayer, followed by chants of “U.S.A.”
“A lot of terrorists come from everywhere – from everywhere, not just those seven countries,” one man said.
Nasser Alsubai’s family gave up an afternoon’s profit.
“We own our businesses here on Atlantic Avenue since the 70s and we closed both of our restaurants here in downtown Brooklyn and Bay Ridge to show our support for the Yemeni community and for the Arab community, whether they are Arab Muslims or Arab Christians,” Alsubai said.
A 16-year-old Yemeni New Yorker named Aamir told Silverman he did not know much about politics, but he believes what President Trump did was wrong.
President Donald Trump’s executive order bars travelers from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen from entering the U.S. The 90-day ban was imposed Friday.