News / Middle East

Homeland Conflict Riles NYC's 'Little Egypt' from Afar

The mosque in Queens New York's Little Egypt neighborhood overflows for Friday prayers, Aug. 16, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
The mosque in Queens New York's Little Egypt neighborhood overflows for Friday prayers, Aug. 16, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
Adam Phillips
The Astoria neighborhood in Queens, New York, is home to thousands of Egyptian Americans and other groups.  

Friday is the holiest day in the Muslim week, and many residents of the Little Egypt neighborhood of Astoria Queens took the day off to try to relax from the work week.  For some, that meant more time at a crowded local mosque, where they listened to sermons.

The bloodshed in Egypt weighed heavily on the minds of many people.  This past week, the Egyptian army stormed sit-ins by the Muslim Brotherhood, killing hundreds of protesters and wounding thousands. 

A man, who had just come from prayer, described the coup and the violence as inhuman.  “… when you play inhuman, disaster happens!” he said.

Mohamed, a Yemeni-American who works in a store across the street, agreed.

“First they elected Morsi, right?  Now they don’t want him anymore.  They just want to do what they want.  So they fight over it.  But thousands of people get killed every day.  Like what I just saw on al-Jazeera.  And when I just logged into Facebook, I saw these pictures of Egyptians dead on the street.  It’s sad.  What can I do about it?  Little children who want a future and all that.  They are dead.  It’s not good,” said Mohamed.

Inside a traditional Muslim clothing shop, a young Turkish woman named Emel said that ousting President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was a setback for democracy.

“It seems pretty sad that people have to fight continuously when they could unite. I feel like if you vote for someone you kind of have to stick with it.  He should have done his period of time, then they should just re-elect someone,“ she said.

She particularly abhored the recent violence by the Egyptian Army.

“I don’t think they should be going and just killing people at random," said Emel.  "That’s what is leading people to use their own weapons against them, and it’s going to create an inner civil war. No army should be coming in and killing.  This is happening right now in Egypt.  But it happens in almost every country.  The army, when they get the power, they take advantage…”

  • Armed Egyptian policeman moves into position in front of al-Fath mosque on Ramses Square in Cairo, August 17, 2013.
  • Policemen stand guard inside a room of the al-Fath mosque when supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi exchanged gunfire with security forces inside the mosque in Cairo, Aug.t 17, 2013
  • Anti-Mursi protesters and riot police officers gather outside al-Fath mosque at Ramses Square in Cairo, August 17, 2013.
  • A police officer takes position during clashes with supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi inside a room of al-Fath mosque in Cairo, August 17, 2013.
  • A member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shouts slogans after he is injured in front Azbkya police station during clashes at Ramses Square, Cairo, August 16, 2013.
  • Egyptians lay on the ground after being injured during clashes between security forces and supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi in Ramses Square, Cairo, August 16, 2013.
  • Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi gather in Cairo, August 16, 2013.
  • A supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shouts slogans during a protest outside Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square, Cairo, August 16, 2013.
  • Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout slogans and wave Egyptian flags during a protest outside Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square, in Cairo, August 16, 2013.
  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi carry a coffin, covered with a national flag, of a protester who was killed during Wednesday' clashes in Cairo, August 16, 2013.
  • Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi take part in a protest near Ennour Mosque, Cairo, August 16, 2013.
  • A soldier holds his weapon as he stands on an armored personnel carrier positioned outside the state-run television station in Cairo, August 16, 2013.
  • Egyptian army soldiers take their positions at an entrance to Tahrir Square, Cairo, August 16, 2013.
  • A man who lost relatives in recent violence stands near a list of names of dead members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at El Eyman mosque in Cairo, August 16, 2013.
  • A man walks through debris from what is left of burned vehicles outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, Cairo, August 16, 2013.
  • Abandoned shoes and a tea glass, belonging to supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, remain on a wall outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, Cairo, August 16, 2013.

In a café down the street where men played backgammon and smoked water pipes beneath a television showing Egyptian news coverage, a patron named Mustafa asserted that the Army acted properly.  He flatly denied Western media reports that Morsi supporters were demonstrating peaceably when the attack came.   

"They carry a machine gun and you tell me a peaceful demonstration," said Mustafa. "They are no good.  Who blew up the World Trade Center?  The Islamic fanatics! 

At a nearby table, a man named Nash said his community suffered directly from the Muslim Brotherhood while they were in power.     

“They attack churches.  I am a Coptic.  I am a Christian," he said.  "They attack churches.  They kill everybody.  They don’t care about Muslim or Christian.  They don’t care about religion.  Religion means peace and love.  They don’t have no peace.  They don’t have no love.  What can I say more than that?  And God bless America, God bless Egypt and save the people over there, our families and our friends.  It’s a black time for Egypt.”

It is an open question as to whether the chaos and violence in Egypt will subside.  One 10-year-old boy, whose uncle’s store back in Egypt has been robbed and looted by both sides in the conflict, put his wishes simply like this: “Stop the fighting.  Stop the killing.  Just be nice.”

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More