NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Many Egyptian-Americans in the Tri-State area let out a sigh of relief Friday. On the 18th day of uprisings in Cairo, the watching and waiting finally ended.
President Hosni Mubarak decided to resign and hand control over to the military a day after announcing that he would stay in office until the next elections in September.
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A massive crowd in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square exploded into joy after Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on national TV just after nightfall.
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“In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic,” a grim-looking Suleiman said. “He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor.”
On Steinway Street in Astoria’s Little Egypt, Thursday night’s disappointment and frowns turned into smiles and jubilation Friday. People stormed out of shops into the streets and began singing as drivers honked their horns and waved Egyptian flags as word spread that Mubarak was out.
“We feel very happy for all Egyptians,” one man said. “We all live in a free country, I want to see all the countries live like here in America. After 30 years, people they believe in change, so it’s time to change. Thank god for this change and I hope for the best for all Egyptians and for all people all over the world.”
The celebration was so proud and loud that police detoured traffic to give a happy crowd more room to cheer and chant.
“Freedom, freedom, freedom,” shouted one man from his car.
“Now we’re free. Free at last, free at last,” another man told CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.
Ayman El-Sawa came to Queens from Highlands, New Jersey. He said his heart was with friends and relatives some 6,000 miles away in Cairo.
“It’s the biggest day of freedom for everyone…biggest day for whole humanity,” he told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.
Randa El-Gamal, 15, came to Queens from Egypt as a baby and visits the country of her birth once a year.
“We’re going to be the new generation growing up and we don’t want to live that way. We want democracy, we want our freedom and that’s what we’re fighting for and we got what we wanted,” she said.
Others expressed worry, but hope for a new government and a brighter future for Egypt and its people.
“It’s a first step for democracy,” Hani Agag said. “We’re looking for more steps.”
One man, who said he fled Egypt two decades ago, told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones it was now time to go home.
1010 WINS’ Al Jones amid the raucous celebration on Steinway Street
“I’m so happy, I’m so happy. I’m not sleep from last night. I’m waiting for this moment, everybody here [was] waiting for this moment,” he said.
“It’s an extraordinary feeling. It’s been thirty years in the regime. It was about time for [Mubarak] to get out. People weren’t worried who’s going to come next, what’s going to come next — they just wanted him out,” one man at the center told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.
1010 WINS Reporter Steve Sandberg with Egyptian-Americans who are celebrating
Others had a more guarded and cautious reaction to the news of Mubarak’s resignation.
“It’s not stable. And at the same time, it’s not as bad as before. The situation between Egypt and Israel — the contract of peace that’s between them, we don’t know what’s going to happen right now,” Moataz Abdel said.
Another man at the Alexandria Fish Market on West Side Avenue said he had hoped for a smoother transition.
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“It’s total chaos and there’s no leaders — a country without a president that’s going to be led by the army people. All my feeling now is worry about my country. Like what going to come next,” he said.
Nevertheless, the news of change in Egypt was the main topic of discussion at the market.
“Mubarak is gone. I feel good today,” one woman said.
“It’s a good time for every Egyptian…because Mubarak no more,” another man said, adding that the joy of the resignation went beyond Egypt and was being felt by “all Arab people.”
CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman in Little Egypt with reaction
WCBS 880 Reporter Kelly Waldron with Egyptian-Americans who applaud the change
President Barack Obama said the Egyptian military had served patriotically and responsibly and now must ensure a transition of power that is credible to the Egyptian people.
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