Vets support Iraqi eatery

A group of veterans, troubled by a vandal throwing a rock through the window of an Iraqi restaurant in a Massachusetts town, fought back by organizing an eat-in and filling every seat twice over.

The Lowell Sun reports that the show of support for the Babylon restaurant in Lowell was organized by Patrick Scanlon, a Vietnam vet and coordinator of Veterans for Peace.Police say a suspect who allegedly tossed the 20-pound stone has confessed, but claims it was not an act of hate, the newspaper says.

Scanlon is skeptical, but regardless turned out the troops, ranging from current Army Reserve members to a former vet in Iraq and Afghanistan to a 96-year-old former Merchant Marine who supplied U.S. troops at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in World War II, the Sun reports.The vets held flags and signs in front of the 50-seat restaurant then took turns sitting down inside for meals this week.

Owner Leyla Al-Zubaydi and her father, Ahmed Al-Zubaidi, tells the newspaper that the family, initially frightened by the incident, are overwhelmed by the show of support."This solidarity gives us the courage to stand," says Al-Zubaidi. "There is no more fear in my heart because there are such nice people behind us."

By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY

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