Tri-State Egyptians Disappointed Mubarak Won't Step Down

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    NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Hundreds of people protest against the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Times Square on February 04, 2011 in New York City. According to published reports, about 500 people gathered behind police barricades calling for the long-time Egyptian leader's ouster. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) > on February 4, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    Many Egyptian-Americans around the tri-state area reacted with disappointment and shock Thursday after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak again refused to step down or leave the country following nearly three weeks of mass protests demanding his ouster.

    Around the world, people 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 after 30 years in power. 

    Instead, the Egyptian leader told throngs of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square that he was in the process of transferring power to Vice President Omar Suleiman.

    In Astoria, Queens, home to thousands of Egyptians, locals gathered around televisions and computers to hear the developments, expressing frustration after Mubarak said he was not giving up the post of president ahead of planned elections in September.

    "We all are mad that he did not leave Egypt," said Ali El Sayed.  He also said he does not believe Mubarak's explanation that he does not want to step down and leave a power vacuum in the country.

    "I didn't believe for 30 years.  I'm not going to believe him today," he said.

    At an Astoria coffee shop, the Egyptian owner handed out two-dollar calling cards for patrons to phone home.  Around the restaurant, posted signs read "Go Mubarak Go" and "We want democracy - no more monarchy government."

    Samy El-Sharkamy of Brooklyn said the anticipation of waiting for Mubarak's announcement was "like a human delivering a baby."

    "This feels like labor," he added. "It's a very difficult time for Egypt but the anticipation is crazy. We need the whole regime to leave. All of them. The people all over Egypt are angry and so are we, over here."

    The tri-state is home to nearly 60,000 Egyptian-Americans.  Over the past two weeks, 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.

    A stunned silence fell over protesters in Tahrir Square after it became clear that Mubarak was not going to leave the country.  Then, crowds began waiving their shoes and chanting "leave, leave, leave."

    The protests in Cairo have continued unabated for nearly three weeks, even after Mubarak refused to leave power but conceded that he will not run for re-election in September.  He also said his son would not enter the race.