Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, a.k.a. Mike, is the owner of Cup Foods at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He and his three sons, Samir, Adam, and Mahmoud, bought the store in 2012. Last Monday, one of the Abumayyalehs’ employees lit the match that ignited a week-long riot in 25 cities.
The employee in question (his or her identity are kept secret in light of the numerous death threats posted on social media) caught the soon-to-be-martyred George Floyd, 46, an African American customer, trying to pay with a counterfeit $20 bill. So they called the cops on him.
The rest is well videotaped history: after handcuffing him, Minneapolis police officers positioned Floyd at the curb, and one of them placed his knee on his neck until he suffocated. Floyd became one of very few Americans to receive the death penalty for passing a bad bill.
According to Ali Harb, reporting for the Middle East Eye, Arab Americans are now debating their role in the midst of African American communities where Arab small businessmen have replaced Jewish and Asian store owners. Indeed, according to Harb, some Arab Americans advocate not reporting black crime to the police because of the unknown consequences of such complaints.
“Mike” Abumayyaleh told Sahan Journal (which claims it is “the only independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit digital newsroom dedicated to providing authentic news reporting for and about immigrants and refugees in Minnesota”): “We stand for Black Lives Matter. We are against abuse of power and racial injustice. We have a system that is broken, and it must be fixed.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the store, Jamar B. Nelson, said “there have been countless death threats. They threatened to do harm to the store, and they threatened to do bodily harm to individuals in the store.”
One post on the store’s Facebook page read: “Count your days, you bastards will die slowly.”
According to Nelson, police are not only called to the store in serious situations, which, apparently, includes bad money. “We take counterfeit extremely seriously,” Nelson maintained. “We train employees that when they come in with any type of false document, protocol is to notify the authorities.”
Jaylani Hussein from the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), suggested “we need to be focused on the four police officers and having them be jailed with no bail until full charges are brought against them” – and not on the hapless Arab store owners who called them in.
In fact, Hussein insisted, store employees were yelling at the cops, urging officer Derek Chauvin to let go of his death-choke of the dying George Floyd.
Dawud Walid, the Michigan executive director of CAIR, who is himself an African American, told the Middle East Eye that “it is unreasonable to say to the store owners just take one for the team or look the other way when someone is allegedly committing a crime, and that’s irrespective of their skin color. On the other hand, if it’s something minor or insignificant or perhaps even a misunderstanding, then the store owner should also be aware that calling the police for a small matter could actually lead to the beating or the death of a human being.”
Reporter Ali Harb stressed the political cooperation between Arabs and Blacks in America, most notably over hatred for Israel. He mentioned Angela Davis, Cornel West and Marc Lamont Hill’s support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and in 2014, Davis’ and many other African-American leaders support of Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh who failed to disclose to US immigration authorities her role in the murder of two Jewish students in a 1969 Jerusalem Supermarket bombing.
But Arab racists apparently fail to recognize these Black contributions to the Palestinian cause, and continue to loath the black patrons of Arab stores in the ghetto. Or, as Abudayyeh told MEE: “There are horror stories about how people in the Black community are treated by our business owners and by the security they hire.” And if this reminds you of the Jewish experience of the 1950s and ’60s, turns out there’s an Arabic equivalent to the infamous “Shvartze” slur – it’s “Abeed” and it means slaves. As in the slaves Arab merchants sold in the New World for several centuries.