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Thousands Rally in Yemeni Bodega Owners' Protest Against Refugee Ban

By Ben Fractenberg | February 2, 2017 4:33pm | Updated on February 2, 2017 6:17pm
 Yemeni bodega owners and workers  rallied against President Donald Trump's order limiting entry for refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Yemeni bodega owners and workers rallied against President Donald Trump's order limiting entry for refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Thousands of Yemeni bodega owners, workers and protesters gathered to decry President Donald Trump's refugee ban at a rally in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall Thursday afternoon. 

The protesters closed their bodegas and delis across the city from noon to 8 p.m. in order to travel to the rally and speak out against Trump's executive order limiting entry for refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Yemen. 

"We want to be free like anyone else," said Amin Awadh, 25, who works at a bodega in Queens. "We're all Americans."

Thousands of people were packed into the square behind the hall, while others filled the staircase leading up to it. Protesters waved Yemeni and American flags, chanting "U.S.A." and "No ban, no wall, U.S.A. for all." Halfway through the rally, thousands of protesters paused to do their evening prayers together.

The rally drew officials such as Public Advocate Letitia James and Borough President Eric Adams.

"You are sending a clear loud message to America. You too are Americans," Adams said.

Trump's executive order caused havoc at airports across the country on Saturday as hundreds of people flying into the U.S. were detained at places like John F. Kennedy Airport.

► READ MORE: Here's What We Know About Trump's Refugee Ban

Up to 6,000 bodegas are owned by Yemeni immigrants across the five boroughs, rally organizers said.

Store owners started posting signs in solidarity after shutting down Thursday afternoon.