Customers were caught by surprise on Feb. 2 when they noticed at least three stores in the Norwood section of the Bronx closed following fallout from President Donald Trump’s ban on foreigners from predominantly Muslim countries. The stores, a 99-cent store and a smoke show, are family owned and operated by those originating from the Middle East. Signs were posted on each of the stores with one reading, “My family detained in JFK.”
Onlookers stopped to read the signs, talking among themselves as they noticed the show of silent protest against Mr. Trump’s ban. One resident, who went by Ray W., said owners of the 99 cent store deliberately closed the store so they can take part in a protest in Brooklyn opposing the ban.
Abdul Razak Al-Kabili, 42, owner of the Smoke Shop at 3200 Bainbridge Ave., was busy pulling down the roll-down gates to his business on East 207th Street in Norwood. A 26-year resident of the Bronx, Al-Kabili explained, “I had some friends stuck at the airport, one… can’t come in yet, but he’s trying to come in but he’s afraid he’ll get stuck at the airport and they’ll turn him back.”
His friend who was stopped in Egypt, and sent back to Yemen without a fight.
At the same time Al-Kabili’s brother was busy shutting the K & M Deli and Mini Market on East 207th Street, before the two would travel together to the rally in Brooklyn.
Even the M & G Bus Stop Deli on East 206th Street was closed, the owner of that deli garnered some unwanted media attention in 2015, when his 10 year-old son was assaulted by an irate customer.
Ibrahem Alqushi of Manhattan was visiting his uncles store, the Bedford Park Deli of East 202nd Street. Alqushi said of the protest, “The Yemenese people are helping everyone today, we had a bunch of family members that were stranded in other nations that were not their own.”
Alqushi noted that his dad would also be closing his deli on East 180th Street, before he continued, “There all coming from other nations, trying to
get into America for a better life, because in Yemen right now, there’s a lot of problems, a lot of bombings. A lot of people losing their homes.”
Alqushi added, “America all began for everyone to be free for their religious beliefs and to come and make a living and now Donald Trump is trying to change everything… with all this craziness that is going on.”
Samanta Figueroa, a Hull Avenue resident and frequent customer, sympathized with the shuttered, adding, “It matters because other people want to come here to study and they can’t. This is so sad, especially for the families and what about their kids?”
Sounding more like a politician from another era, Figueroa added, “It’s sad that they can’t come to a conclusion that everyone can be comfortable with.”
President Trump signed an executive order that bars immigrants originating from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days. He also ordered the US to no longer accept refugees from battle scarred Syria.
Additional reporting by Daniela Beasley