With Egypt in chaos, those countrymen living in Queens have their minds – and their hearts – in their homeland.
There are thousands protesting in the streets of Cairo and on Friday, January 28, Egyptians in Astoria did the same to support the uprising.
Signs calling for the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak line store windows on Steinway Street in the part of Astoria called “Little Egypt.”
Ali El Sayed, owner of the Kabab Café, was at the protest saying it “was fantastic.”
El Sayed, who still has family in Egypt, said he was not worried.
“If we want freedom, we have to fight for it,” he said. “Don’t worry; don’t be scared, everything will be fine. [The youth] are handling it fantastically.”
The Egyptian people are opposing Mubarak, who has been in power for 30 years. As of Tuesday, February 1, he announced that he will “not stand” in the September elections, according to published reports.
Death tolls for the riots are over 100. While there is a curfew in place, many Egyptians are defying the order in protest.
Many politicians in Queens are showing their support.
“The Egyptian people are in the midst of a crisis, and like anyone in crisis, they need to know who their friends are,” said Congressmember Gary Ackerman, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. “By their passion, courage and sacrifice in the streets, Egyptians have proven beyond question that they are taking their government back.”
“I know first-hand the concern with which many New Yorkers are following developments in Cairo,” said Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, whose area includes the “Little Egypt” community in Astoria. “With courage and determination, many Egyptians have joined together to call for greater democracy and political freedom in Egypt.”
El Sayed said there has been a sense of unity within the community both from Egyptian-Americans and the Arab community.
“We’ve been waiting for this for 30 years,” he said.