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Conversations in Little Egypt

Article / I report from Queens on Egyptian-American attitudes about the Arab Spring.

Photograph by Alejandro Armas.

“I have never believed in torture,” Hosni Shahata told me over tea in the Egyptian Coffee Shop on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. “But I believe in it now. Mubarak has tortured 80 million people for 30 years and I want him and his family to be tortured. I want them tortured painfully and very slowly.”

Shahata is a Whirling Dervish dancer who emigrated from Cairo to New York in 1976 to dance with his father. When he became a US Citizen in 1983, he changed his name from Hosni Shahata to Jeffery Fares. “I didn’t want to have the same first name as Mubarak,” he told me. “I never liked this guy. Now that he has resigned I am going back to my original name. I am proud to be an Egyptian again.”

Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt since 1981, stepped down from the presidency on February 11, 2011, after three weeks of widespread national protests demanding his resignation. The revolutionary events were a link in a longer chain; they followed demonstrations in Tunisia, where protestors were able to oust the longtime leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and preceded uprisings in Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria, where leaders have violently refused to abandon power.

Read the article in the inaugural issue of Construction.


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