Accessibility links


New York’s Egyptian Community Reacts to Homeland Unrest

Police and unidentified people are seen in the streets during a demonstration in Suez, Egypt, Jan 28, 2011

Police and unidentified people are seen in the streets during a demonstration in Suez, Egypt, Jan 28, 2011

The growing popular movement in Egypt to oust President Hosni Mubarak from power was echoed in New York City, where hundreds of thousands of Egyptian immigrants live.

Passions ran high outside an Astoria Queens mosque following Friday midday prayers, as hundreds gathered in support of the popular uprising in the homeland, where President Mubarak has called in the army to quash protesters demanding his ouster.

All here seemed to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, whose authoritarian - and many say corrupt - rule has lasted for 30 years. But there were disagreements at the mosque - and in at least one case, a scuffle where police had to intervene - as to what sort of government should replace Mr. Mubarak.

One bystander, named Mohamed, expressed support for a Western-style democracy.

"It’s a revolution," said Mohamed. "We need democratic [governance] over there. There is no democratic [government] in the Middle East. People don’t have jobs. They don’t have food. They don’t have life. They don’t have any kind of freedom. I wish the Egyptian people would take the dictator out from power. We need him tio leave from our life. Enough is enough!"

Nabila, a traditional Muslim woman, also opposes Mr. Mubarak, but hopes an Islamic government will take his place.

"If the Muslims get power, and if they do whatever Islam says, Egypt is going to be the best in the world, not only all over the Arabic areas," said Nabila. "If you see the French laws, the American laws, you find some stuff [that is] not good. But when you look at the Islam law, you find real, real good law for everything."

Meanwhile, in a donut shop nearby, this woman and man didn’t wish to speculate on the political makeup of a post-Mubarak Egypt. They just wanted President Mubarak, his son, whom he has groomed as a replacement, and their entire coterie toppled from power.

WOMAN: "He should go. He should go. That's it. This is the right time for him to go. We’ve been suffering for 30 years. There are no jobs, no hopes, no future, nothing, because of him. It is his and his group and his family. Nobody else. Forty people, 50 people, they have the power. They have the money. They have everything and we have nothing. This is fair? It’s not fair."

MAN: "We are not against the people who have money. [If] you are working hard [and] you make money, it’s yours. But [to] use this money only for yourself, that's bad."

Nearby, another customer was simply worried about his family amid the growing violence and uncertainty.

"We are worried about what is happening [with] the lives of the people with the brutality of the police," he said. "We want them to treat them good and give them the chance to express their way and say what they want to do. This is a good time for a change."

Just how events in Egypt will unfold in the coming hours and days is anyone’s guess. But many Egyptian-Americans in New York agree that the current uprising against President Mubarak and his government is already the largest in Egypt's history.