‘The Moral High Ground’: Military Veterans Fill Lowell, Mass. Iraqi Restaurant after Vandalism Attack
In a touching show of community support, a veteran’s group in Massachusetts vowed to fill every seat of an Iraqi restaurant in Lowell after a vandal threw a large rock through its window.
The Lowell Sun reports that the incident raised fears that the attack was motivated by hate, although local police say they don’t believe that was the case.
Still, Patrick Scanlon, a Vietnam veteran and Veterans for Peace activist, organized a rousing show of support in which more than 100 people showed up at Babylon, a 50-seat Iraqi eatery in downtown Lowell, to eat. Among the veterans dining at Babylon were troops who served in the Iraq War, like Army Sgt. Rachel McNeill and Army Reservist Chris Borden.
Paul Brailsford, a 96-year-old former Merchant Marine captain who served in the Pacific during World War II was also present.
Lowell Mayor Patrick Murphy also showed up.
“This is the real American dream,” Scanlon said of the restaurant. “For someone to come and throw a rock through this window in what we consider a hate crime is totally unacceptable.”
Babylon owner Leyla al-Zubaydi was driven to tears of joy by the outpouring of community support. Her father Ahmed told the Sun that his family contemplated closing the restaurant after the attack but “this solidarity gives us the courage to stand.”
“There is no more fear in my heart because there are such nice people behind us,” he said.
Lowell police have arrested a suspect in the attack. They say the unnamed New Hampshire man’s motives were not hate-based.
“Unless this gentleman is lying to us — and I don’t believe that he is — he didn’t even know this restaurant was affiliated with people from Iraq,” Lowell police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee told the Sun.
Babylon’s windows clearly advertise “Middle Eastern Recipes” and “Iraqi Dishes,” and there is some skepticism surrounding Sup. Lavallee’s claim.
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