Astoria’s Sarker Haque was the victim of a hate crime after being attacked in his store in December 2015. At that time, a 55-year-old Florida man is alleged to have entered Haque’s store, stated that he “kills Muslims” and repeatedly punched the store owner in the face.
On Tuesday, Haque traveled with U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley to Washington, D.C. to listen to President Donald Trump’s first address to Congress, where the longtime Astoria resident hoped his presence would send a message of inclusivity. Haque said that he and many immigrants who live in Queens have been unsettled by the president’s rhetoric regarding Muslims as well as his immigration initiatives.
Crowley has rightly argued that the president’s comments on immigrants are in direct opposition to the tenets that the United States, a nation of immigrants, holds dear. The congressman brought Haque to the congressional address to show that creating an atmosphere that pits our nation’s diverse populations against each other encourages violence.
We commend the congressman for bringing Haque to the address. It’s unclear whether Trump knows that Haque was sitting in the audience on Tuesday night listening to him. But if he’d been given a chance to meet him, the president would have come face to face with a person who worked hard to make a life for himself in this country, but has also suffered due to intolerance.
The analyses of Trump’s speech to Congress mostly agreed that the president had taken a slightly softer tone. However, the president’s actions still stand and there’s no indication that he intends to take a more moderate view towards immigration.
This weekend, Queens residents will show solidarity with the borough’s immigrant population during a “unity rally” at Queens Borough Hall at 4 p.m. on Sunday. We believe that the event—where people from across the borough will gather to show support for the diverse place we call home—will send a message to the Trump administration that welcoming others is what makes America great.