DITMARS — A neighborhood bodega owner who was beaten in an anti-Muslim hate crime attack last year will accompany a local congressman to Donald Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday — as a protest against the president's travel ban and anti-Muslim rhetoric, the lawmaker said.
Sarker Haque, the owner of Fatima Food Mart on 21st Avenue and 23rd Street, will serve as Rep. Joe Crowley's guest at the president's speech Tuesday night, more than a year after he was assaulted in his shop by a man who said he wanted to "kill Muslims."
"The victim of an anti-Muslim hate crime, Sarker is emblematic of the American dream," Crowley said in a statement about the Queens business owner, who originally hails from Bangladesh and has lived in Astoria with his family for more than 30 years.
"I want President Trump to know that I vehemently disagree with his characterization of immigrants and Muslim-Americans. When the president speaks to the country on Tuesday, he'll also be addressing Sarker — a business owner, a proud American," the congressman added.
"I hope President Trump remembers this as he prepares for the significant responsibility of addressing the nation."
Sarker Haque in his store in December 2015 (Credit: DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly)
Crowley was one of several elected officials to offer support to Haque in the days after he was assaulted. Astoria residents brought cards and flowers to the shop owner, and dozens rallied outside his store in a show of solidarity.
Attempts to reach Haque for comment were not immediately successful Monday. Calls to Fatima Food Mart went unanswered.
His attacker, Piro Kolvani of Jacksonville, Florida, was indicted last year on several charges, including assault as a hate crime.
Kolvani's case is still pending, with his next court date set for March 13, according to the Queens District Attorney's office.
Crowley isn't the only lawmaker making a statement with his choice of guests to Trump's speech.
Several Democrats will also be accompanied by immigrants, Muslim-Americans and those protected under the DREAM Act, while some plan to bring guests who would be aversely affected by efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, according to Politico.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez, who represents parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Lower Manhattan, will be joined by Hameed Darweesh, an Iraqi interpreter who was among those temporarily detained at JFK airport immediately following Trump institution of the travel ban.