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Egyptian Community in Astoria, Queens Anxiously Watches as Demonstrations Unfold

by Chiara Wegener
A A
A sign asking for freedom for the Egyptian people in Astoria, Queens
Stephen Ross

American-Egyptians in Little Egypt gathered together to watch day seven of the protests in their home country.

With anti-government demonstrations going strong in major cities across Egypt, citizens of the Little Egypt neighborhood in Astoria, Queens gathered in coffee shops and delis to watch live coverage of the protests.

Many of them have relatives living in Egypt, and all of them had opinions about the demonstrations. Most of the neighborhood came out in support of the demonstrators, with shop windows covered in a variety of posters. Some had simple messages supporting the fight for democracy while others had stronger positions, with one poster calling Mubarak a dictator and showing him surrounded by swastikas and photos of Hitler.

Asahraf Ahno works at a travel agency; he said he believes that a disparity in wealth lies at the heart of the protests. He pointed out that while a small portion of Egyptian society lives extremely well, others are so impoverished that they can't afford basic needs such as bread and meat. When asked about the U.S. involvement, Ahno said that there was nothing Obama could do to change the outcome of the demonstrations.

Amira Hady, another employee at the same travel agency, was concerned with the safety of her relatives living in Suez, Egypt. They had described to her by phone the chaos that has followed the protests, including a prison outbreak and looting in her family's neighborhood.

Many members of the community agreed with the protesters, but some disagreed. Sitting in a hookah bar packed with natives of Egypt and watching the demonstrations unfold on television, one man said people should remember Mubarak for his heroic actions in the past and respect his ability to keep peace in the Middle East. He maintains that the demonstrators are fanatics with the goal of creating an Islamic state.

Monday marked the seventh day of protests in Egypt.

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