NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of ethnic Yemeni business owners who operate New York City corner bodegas and neighborhood delis closed shop Thursday in protest of President Donald Trump's travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The shops were locked at noon and were to remain shuttered until 8 p.m., according to organizers of a late afternoon rally in downtown Brooklyn. At least 1,000 Yemeni-run small businesses are a part of many New Yorkers' daily lives, said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who planned to attend the rally.
Haron Zokari closed his Manhattan deli at noon, as well. He said his wife and baby are stuck in Yemen after almost completing a four-year, green-card process.
"We are trying to stay strong," he said. "There's people there who are refugees and who are starving and running for their lives, so thank God we don't have it as bad as they do."
Trump's executive order barred people from Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria from entering the U.S. for 90 days. Under the order, travelers have been detained, sent back from the United States or stranded in other countries.
Zaid Nagi, who owns three delis in the Bronx, said the ban disrupted plans to bring his mother to the United States, where he has lived for more than 20 years. The 36-year-old married father of four said the point of the protest was to say, "We are part of this community. We are not who this order is trying to say we are."
He said most of his customers had expressed solidarity with the shutdown.
"They know who we are. They know we are human beings just like them," he said. "I believe in the good people of America."
As night fell, a raucous but orderly crowd of at least 1,000 people including many of the shopkeepers filled a plaza in Brooklyn to protest the travel ban.
Many waved the flag of Yemen. Their cheers echoed between tall buildings to the federal courthouse a few blocks away where lawyers for the government and civil liberties groups appeared earlier before a judge hearing a legal challenge to Trump's travel restrictions.
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