QUEENS, N.Y. (CN) – Crowds gathered along the two-block Queens neighborhood known as “Little Egypt” the day the Egyptian people forced Hosni Mubarak out of office after a 30-year reign. Chanting many of the same slogans reported on the streets of Cairo, recent immigrants, college students, restaurant owners and others waved Egyptian flags, shook noisemakers, danced, sang and brandished posters marking the downfall of a dictator. Cars honked at the crowds, and a driver flashed a victory sign through his sunroof. Red, black and white face paint covered many faces, and throngs of people filled the hookah bars that line the neighborhood. continued
One street vendor said the celebrations began shortly following early afternoon prayers, and a group of students said that the New York City Police Department started crowd control in the early evening.
Among those celebrating were a high-school teacher incorporating news of the revolution into her freshman classes, a second-generation Egyptian-American related to a CIA operative and an NYU archeology student evacuated out of Egypt from her study abroad program in January.
Maram Mabrouk, a teacher at North Shore High School in Long Island, said that her last name is Arabic for “congratulations,” which she said is what the crowds in Little Egypt, and reportedly, the big Egypt, had been chanting after Mubarak’s resignation.
Mabrouk said that she teaches social studies to her freshman class, and she encouraged her students to compare the demonstrations to power shifts in ancient civilizations.
After grabbing food from across the street, Mabrouk met her sister-in-law Stephanie at Jerusalem Nights, a restaurant and hookah bar around which most of the late-night celebrations were centered. Families posed for pictures in front of an enormous Egyptian flag that covered the window of the restaurant.
Stephanie, a second-generation Egyptian-American, said that she first heard about Mubarak’s resignation while working in Bay Ridge, which she said also has a large Egyptian community.
She said that, while both of her parents were in favor of Mubarak leaving, her mother had hoped for a more gradual transition, out of concern for a relative in Egypt who worked for the CIA.
Stephanie said that her extended family in Egypt was also concerned about the reported release of prisoners following Mubarak’s resignation.
Mabrouk, however, said she was confident that “the [Egyptian] military is really going to move forward.”
Inside one of the hookah bars, three NYU students inhaled mango-flavored tobacco, as one of them, Anna Flowers, described how she was evacuated an Egyptian oasis shortly after she began an archeological excavation.
Flowers said that her program was stationed in Dakhla, one of the seven oases in Egypt’s Western desert, and she was not near Cairo on the onset of the revolution. But her program felt its effects through the Internet.
Her study abroad experience was supposed to run from Jan. 25 to Mar. 28, 2011. But she said that she received evacuation orders three days after she began digging the Egyptian and Roman ruins.
“We didn’t know anything was wrong until the Internet was shut down,” Flowers said.
Her friend Anna Lekas Miller, a Lebanese-American NYU student and freelance journalist specializing in Mideast politics, said she was surprised to find Flowers’ Twitter feed being transmitted after Mubarak reportedly cracked down on social networking sites.
Flowers said that she and her friends had planned to visit Tunisia before being sent back home, and regretted not being able to visit Cairo before returning to America.
“I just want to party in Tahrir Square,” Flowers said.