Moustafa Avovelela, 30, of Queens, speaks about his concerns for...

Moustafa Avovelela, 30, of Queens, speaks about his concerns for what is happening in Egypt, Monday, at the Islamic Community Center in Melville. (Jan. 31, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Jessica Rotkiewicz

For days, Long Island's Egyptians have been scouring newspapers, staring at the television, and calling friends and family back home.

And when a few dozen people gathered after a wake at the Islamic Center in Melville Monday night, it was on everybody's lips: When will Mubarak go?

"Look, he's a dictator," said Assan Ibrahim, 48, a car dealer from Dix Hills, referring to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "He tried to turn the military on his own people. The man is 83. What more does he want? Just go, just let go."

Most of those present Monday night said they hoped the United States would take a more aggressive stance. "I'm hoping there's more support for democracy in Egypt," said Alaaedin Moawad, 50, a pediatrician practicing in West Babylon who left Egypt more than 20 years ago. "Obama says more democracy, more freedom - well, I feel it is about time."

Ibrahim said he'd barely slept in days. He has family among demonstrators in Egypt and he's worried for them, but also excited by the possibility of the country's first transfer of power in 30 years.

"What's going on is beyond imagination," he said his brother told him during one of their recent conversations.

There are about 3,000 Egyptian-Americans on Long Island, according to the American Community Survey.

Moawad described the events as "history. We are looking at history." People who might have been scared to demonstrate even months ago are taking to the streets, he said. "They are standing in front of tanks. They're saying, 'This is my freedom, and I'm going to go for it.' "

Moustafa Avovelela, 30, a physical therapist from Queens, left the country five years ago. "I couldn't stand" the corruption, he said, describing a frustrating, days-long process to secure even the simplest official documents without bribes.

"We have a right to democracy and a decent life," he said.

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