Yemini flags in Lackawanna spark controversy

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A popular stretch of Ridge Road now has Yemini and American flags waving. Some residents in the community don’t welcome it, but the Mayor of Lackawanna said he’s not backing down.

“Some people don’t like the fact that they’re flying side by side with our flag. Then my response was well you didn’t call anybody or complain when the Polish flags were flying side by side with the American flags,” said Mayor Geoff Szymanski, (D).

He explained that when the Yeminite community approached him about flying the flags, he agreed. Szymanski said when Dyngus Day was here, Polish flags flew. Columbus Day, Italian flags waived. Also on St. Patrick’s Day, Irish flags were present.

“Prominent members of the Yeminite community asked if they could fly their ancestral flag along with their flag of the United States for an important holiday to them,” Szymanski said.

The President of the Muslim Community, Anwar Al-Kalai added, “We are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which is the first day of the 10th month on the Islamic calendar. It starts after the month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This day is the celebration when people go do their prayers and basically celebrate the end of the month of fasting.”

Szymansky said the Yeminite community is the fastest growing community in Lackawanna. Some expressed that seeing the flags erected next the American flags makes them feel welcome.

“The Yeminite community is very happy, very proud. We are in support of our great mayor. What he did makes us feel welcome in the city of Lackawanna. We are part of the city,” said Abdulsalam Noman, a Lackawanna Councilman.

The Yemini flags were put up on Friday, July 25 and will stay for two weeks.

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