‘Let My Building Burn’: Muslim Restaurant Owner Shows Solidarity with Minneapolis Protesters

“Life is more valuable than anything else…We can rebuild a building. But we cannot give this man back to his family.”

“Life is more valuable than anything else…We can rebuild a building. But we cannot give this man back to his family.”

(Image Credit: Yahoo News UK)

The massive protests that have erupted in the US over the killing of another unarmed black man, George Floyd, by white police officers, have shaken the country. Protesters have gathered in Minneapolis, beginning at the site where Floyd was murdered on Monday, and have marched and demonstrated against the blatant and systematic racism that continues to kill innocent black Americans on a regular basis.

A Muslim restaurant owner in Minneapolis is just another voice lending support to those protesting in a powerful stance – Ruhel Islam, who owns the Gandhi Mahal Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant just a block away from the Minneapolis Third Police Precinct, saw his building burned among several others during an escalation of demonstrations.

While obviously shaken by the damage, his daughter Hafsa took to Facebook to post his powerful response:

Let my building burn. Justice needs to be served…put those officers in jail.”

Also speaking to Buzzfeed News, Islam explained that he realized the bigger picture at hand – the horrendous abuse black Americans continue to face must be protested, and if that meant his business was just one of the buildings damaged in the process, he gladly takes this honor:

Life is more valuable than anything else…We can rebuild a building. But we cannot give this man back to his family.”

Islam, a Bangladeshi immigrant, opened the restaurant with his brother in 2008 – and is known in the community for his activism and interfaith support. On the board for the Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light (a faith-based climate change advocacy group), Islam has also spoken up strongly against the proposed Line 3 project, a controversial pipeline that would be built across northern Minnesota that would have devastating environmental effects as well as damaging important Native American lands.

The Gandhi Mahal Restaurant is also known for its community events – only last year the restaurant hosted a “Unity Iftar” during Ramadan to bring people together from different faiths. Posting on Facebook since the incident, the restaurant stated: “Gandhi Mahal may have felt the flames last night, but our firey drive to help protect and stand with our community will never die! #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd”.

Since the killing of Floyd and the massive protests following his death, the officer who had pinned Floyd down by the neck, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin along with the three other police officers present during Floyd’s killing have been reportedly fired from the police department.

Despite national outrage, US President Trump’s response has been nothing short of horrifying – Twitter has even reportedly flagged his tweet for “glorifying violence” after he posted: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”. This was following his previous remarks on sending in the National Gaurd to “get the job done right” in stopping the protests.

As the US continues to struggle under systematic and embedded racism, many in the country rightfully fear for their lives – as countless tragic deaths show, simply being black can mean a death sentence in the US. In solidarity, we must continue to protest, and to continue to call out injustice whenever and wherever we see it.

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