While throngs of Egyptians celebrated at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Long Islanders of Egyptian descent gathered together in prideful celebrations after hearing the news that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down Friday after 18 days of intense and sometimes bloody protests.
Scores of Egyptians gathered at the Islamic Center of Melville after hearing the news of Mubarak’s resignation prior to their traditional Friday prayer service. After the prayer, chants of “Allah Akbar,” Arabic for God is great, rang through the small mosque. Many hugged and congratulated one another inside the mosque while outside in the parking lot, Egyptians young and old sang and danced in joy.
Just yesterday, Mubarak refused to step down and instead handed down most of his power to his vice president. Protesters grew angrier thinking that Mubarak would finally step down after 30 years of autocratic rule.
It was then reported early Friday that Mubarak left Cairo for Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where he has a palace. But just as Egypt and the rest of the world was processing that news his vice president, Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak passed down all his powers to the military. Egyptians on Long Island and across the world were finally ready to celebrate.
“It’s a victory, a victory, it’s like a dream,” said Alaaeldin Moawad, 50, a pediatrician from Commack. “We are so happy and I wish I could be home to celebrate with our people there, but this is home too and we have a lot of people here.”
He called home to Egypt after hearing the news and said, “everybody is happy,” as his fellow Egyptians celebrated in the streets.
Moawad first heard the news of Mubarak stepping down at work and said of the moment, “I just cried, I’ve been waiting for this day all my life,” he said as tears just a couple of hours ago turned into smiles.
After the prayer service Sherif Eladly, 26, skipped through the parking lot of the mosque banging on a drum with an Egyptian flag waving behind his back.
In an scene similar to what has played out in the streets of Cairo, men young and old gathered around Eladly as he banged on the drums with others around him clapping their hands while singing over the roars of trucks on the nearby Long Island Expressway.
“We couldn’t imagine this moment, this is the best moment ever in my life, “Eladly of Centereach told the Press. “Everybody is proud to be Egyptian now.”
That pride was evident as men and women entered the Mosque for 1 p.m. prayer with smiles on their faces as they kicked off their shoes ready to pray and celebrate a momentous occasion.
“They actually made it happen. They had the stamina and the guts and the perseverance to make the change, and the people spoke and finally everybody else succumbed to the people’s wishes,” said Dina Fahmy. “So we’re very very excited and very happy and very proud.”
Fahmy, 44, of Dix Hills, got a call from her father in Egypt asking her why she isn’t celebrating yet. He told her the news and held out the phone for her to hear her fellow Egyptians celebrating.
“I could hear the people rejoicing and dancing and singing, and the horns were going crazy and the fireworks. He was just extremely ecstatic,” said Fahmy. Her father described the scene of men, women and children dancing in the streets all night. “Nobody is getting any sleep everybody is very very happy.”
“The outcome was good, people prevailed,” Fahmy said. “I think we’ve accomplished a great feat in 18 short days.”
Dr. Osama Yunis, who led the prayer service, thought Mubarak should have stepped down much sooner. “It was something we were waiting for a long time ago, it should have been done way before that.”
He continued: “It took him three weeks to get this idea sinking in his head. He couldn’t believe it, that these people so peacefully can do that, and it’s never been done. There is no blood shed on their part but on his part. Yes, he’s still going to have the 300 [dead] to account for,” he said in his office.
Now that Mubarak is gone, many people are wondering what’s next for the Egyptian government. Yunis said he doesn’t know what’s going to happen, but all he can hope for is a peaceful transition.
“I really have no clue what is really going to happen. I wish that they would have an interim government that [are mostly] for people to trust and have nothing to do with the old people,” he said.
And although Fahmy was very excited that Egypt’s dictator has been toppled, she is also feeling a little apprehensive.
“The military is in charge, which you know, we’re all sitting very tightly anxiously waiting for a smooth peaceful transition into a democratic government,” Famhy said.
But for many Egyptians it’s a time to celebrate after 30 years of rule under Mubarak.
With his friends celebrating behind him, Eladly wanted to thank the protesters for a “historic revolution.”
He also had a message for those who protested for nearly three weeks. “I want to say to Egypt we miss you, we really miss you.”