Dozens of Egyptians gathered Thursday at Astoria’s Arab Community Center, their eyes glued to Al Jazeera news on television, eagerly awaiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s expected resignation speech.
Once it became clear, however, that he wasn’t going anywhere, their hopeful anticipation turned to outrage.
“Mubarak is the enemy of the people, he’s a thief and we want him gone!” shouted Mohamed Gharib, 50, of Astoria. “He’s been there for 30 years, he wants to wait until September, but nobody wants him there even for one minute.”
Ahmed Elkhour, 40, of Astoria, watched the announcement crouched on his seat, locked on Mubarak. When the Egyptian president said he wouldn’t leave, Elkhour shot up and yelled.
“He plays games with Egypt! He thinks the people are stupid!” Elkhour said. “But tomorrow he will be gone. This was his last chance. The people will go catch him in his palace and he will be no more.”
Mohamed Amin, 39, of Astoria, agreed. He said the protests will only get worse.
“We tried to do it peacefully, but he doesn’t understand,” he said. “The protesters are getting angrier than they’ve ever been, and right now millions of people are going straight to his house.”
With Egypt’s immediate future unclear as ever, the consensus at the Center was that this was the last straw for Mubarak, and that soon the protesters will leave him with no choice but to leave.
For Gharib, who has family in Egypt, that can’t come soon enough.
“When he leaves, that will be the best day of my life,” Gharib said. “He’s destroying the best country in the world.”