February 28, By Hannah Wulkan
A local bodega owner that was targeted with an anti-Muslim hate crime will accompany a local congressman as his guest to President Donald Trump’s joint address to congress this evening.
Congressman Joe Crowley announced last week that he would bring Sarker Haque, owner of Fatima Food Mart at 31-37 21st Street in Astoria, to the joint address tonight in protest of Trump’s executive orders on immigration.
Trump will address both houses of congress tonight around 9 p.m. about the state of the nation. The speech will be similar to a State of the Union address, but since Trump only took office about a month ago, he will not give an official SOTU address this year.
“President Trump has demonized Islam and the Muslim-American community since he first announced his campaign for the presidency – attacks that only continued after his inauguration. This rhetoric, along with the announced travel ban against seven predominantly Muslim countries, goes against everything we stand for as Americans,” Crowley said in a statement.
Crowley chose to bring Haque as his guest because he was the victim of an anti-Muslim hate crime in 2015, when he was beaten in his store by an attacker yelling he wanted to “kill Muslims.”
“The victim of an anti-Muslim hate crime, Sarker is emblematic of the American dream. He immigrated to this country in search of a better life and now owns his own business in Astoria,” Crowley explained.
Haque emigrated from Bangladesh nearly 30 years ago, and has built a business and raised five children in Astoria. When he was attacked, the community supported him and Crowley visited his store and presented him with an American flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol.
“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, and, like the president’s family, an immigrant who came to the United States in search of the American dream,” Crowley said.