Local Egyptians Celebrate After Mubarak Steps Down

By Melissa Colorado and Susannah Griffee
|  Saturday, Feb 12, 2011  |  Updated 9:34 AM EDT
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NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: People in a neighborhood with a large Egyptian diaspora celebrate in the street following the news that Hosni Mubarak stepped down on February 11, 2011 in the Queens borough of New York City. Celebrations have broken out across the Middle East and throughout Egypt after weeks of often violent protests against the ageing president failed to remove him up to now. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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Egyptian-Americans in the tri-state celebrated through the night to mark the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who gave in to mass demonstrations and ended his 30 year run of power.

In Astoria, Queens, home to thousands of Egyptians, cafes and restaurants hosted parties Friday night. People drove through the neighborhood honking, raising flags from their cars, chanting "We love Egypt" and "We love peace, no more corruption."

Sherine El-Abd found herself sobbing with joy at her home in Clifton, N.J. A board member of the Washington-based nonprofit Arab American Institute, she predicted that the military in Egypt will "oversee a clean, democratic election.''

Nabila Guirguis, who grew up in Cairo but now lives in Marlboro, N.J., told NBC New York she was happy to hear Mubarak had resigned because she feared bloodshed if he had stayed in office. But she said many are worried about what comes next.

Some local Egyptians "are very nervous, they are not celebrating. They want the chaos to end," she said. "They are afraid that the country won’t be stable again. They think the country will be like Iraq or Iran. You cannot civilize a country in a few weeks. I think it will be chaos for a long time."

Vice President Omar Suleiman said the Supreme Council of the armed forces would "run the affairs of the country."

A day earlier, people around the world had waited anxiously for an announcement from Mubarak after Egyptian army officials said he was ready to "meet protesters' demands."  Many anticipated that Mubarak would bow to pressure and step down, but instead, the Egyptian leader told throngs of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square that he was in the process of transferring power to the vice president.

Some had feared Mubarak's refusal to leave on Thursday would spark violence.

The tri-state area is home to nearly 60,000 Egyptian-Americans.  Local Egyptian groups have organized rallies in Times Square, outside the United Nations and in Newark and "Little Egypt" in Astoria to express solidarity with demonstrators in Egypt.

Locals have also spent agonizing hours awaiting word from family and friends there, fearing for their safety. They were relieved as they felt the tide changing Friday.

"The phone calls today were the polar opposite," said Amina Ragheb, a Brooklyn resident whose father is Egyptian. "My family is running amuck in the streets right now, screaming with pride and victory in their voices."

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