Vets ‘Eat In’ to Support Vandalized Iraqi Restaurant
Last week, a boulder was thrown through the front window of the Babylon Restaurant in Lowell, MA, in the middle of the night. This week, the restaurant was crowded to overflowing thanks to a spontaneous “Eat In” organized by local Veterans for Peace leader and Unitarian Universalist Pat Scanlon. At the Eat In, Veterans for Peace members were joined by Unitarian Universalists from the North Parish of North Andover, MA, and the UU Congregation in Andover. For two hours, participants carried flags and signs reading “Stop Hate Crimes in Lowell” in front of the restaurant and filled the dining room many times over. Their efforts made the front page of the Lowell Sun and even garnered nationwide media attention,including an article in the Daily Kos and a feature on the Rachel Maddow Show.
Check out the following video, where Pat beautifully speaks of his commitment to standing on the side of love with Lowell’s Iraqi community:
The restaurant owner, Ahmed Al-Zubaidi, was an Iraqi television journalist who immigrated to the United States after his life was threatened. An article about him and another new Iraqi restaurant owner appeared recently in the Boston Globe. His daughter Leyla said of the Eat In, “Thank you, to all the veterans and others who came to support my family, you will never know what this has meant to my family and the Iraqi community. We will never forget this.”
Vietnam veteran Pat Scanlon is friends with many other Iraqi refugees in Lowell thanks to his tireless work with Veterans for Peace and Merrimack Valley People for Peace. People for Peace has led an effort to help settle new Iraqi immigrants and North Parish UU members have been involved in that effort by connecting with families, participating in furniture drives, funding a special project through the Christmas collection, and welcoming them to events at the church.
Rev. Lee Bluemel, Rev. Lara Hoke, and Pat Scanlon contributed material to this post.