NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 29: People protest against the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak outside of the United Nations on January 29, 2011 in New York City. Egypt, a Muslim nation that has a long and deep-seated relationship with America is the latest Muslim country after Tunisia to be shaken by waves of violent protests demanding that the current regime step down. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Egyptians around the tri-state have been holding protests in support of the popular uprising back home, even as many struggled to reach family members as cell phone, internet connections and even Facebook accounts remained blocked.
In Manhattan, around 1000 people gathered Saturday outside the United Nations to show support for the rallies in Egypt and to urge the world body to show solidarity with protesters calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down.
Holding signs saying "enough Mubarak" and "Mubarak Regime Must Go," protesters stayed out in the cold for hours Saturday afternoon in support of the rallies going on in Cairo.
The crowd was loud and emotional, but peaceful, as they called Saturday for the international community to support the popular uprising.
Protester Ahmed Soliman, of Manhattan, says Egypt deserves a Democratically elected leader.
He says he has been dreaming of this day since leaving Egypt 18 years ago.
On Friday, similar protests were held in Astoria, Queens, home to thousands of people of Egyptian herritage, and in New Jersey.
"What can I do from here? The phone is only ringing, there is no contact between America and Egypt,'' said Usama "Sam'' Kwless of Bayonne, as he gathered with compatriots at the Saraya restaurant in Jersey City to follow live reports from Egypt.
Kwless said Egyptian immigrants may have mixed opinions about the political turmoil unfolding in their home country, but they were united in their concern that loved ones could get caught in the crossfire.
"My family, my family,'' Kwless said, when asked what concerned him most about the situation. "I don't care about the government because governments change, and that can sometimes be a good thing.''
Egyptians represent the largest single group among New Jersey's diverse Arab-American population. An analysis by the Arab American Institute of the most recent U.S. Census figures shows more than 83,000 New Jerseyans are of Arab-speaking ancestry. Of that group, more than 1 in 3 have Egyptian roots.
Jersey City resident Aliaa Gouda, who was born in Cairo, was among a group of about 100 protesters who gathered Friday afternoon in a main square in Jersey City to wave Egyptian flags and shout anti-President Hosni Mubarak slogans. She said her anger over the Egyptian president refusing to step down was secondary to her concern for her two sisters and other loved ones in Cairo.
"Government, they can take care of themselves and survive, but our families right now, they are in jeopardy,'' Gouda said. "We need to make sure they are safe.''