It was just a year ago that Egyptian-Americans celebrated the election of the nation's first democratically-chosen president. Now, after Mohammed Morsi’s removal by the military, local Egyptian-Americans are worried about what the move bodes for the future of Egypt's fledgling democracy.
Egyptians had been struggling with a poor economy and other problems, says Father Joseph Boules, an Egyptian Coptic priest with St. Verena Coptic Orthodox Church in Anaheim.
"The country had deteriorated to a very bad state, where people were standing in very long lines just fill up their gas tanks, the electricity was periodically cut off on regular basis, there was a shortage of water and energy," said Boules, who supports the removal of Morsi. "People we just having a very hard economical time."
Morsi was also criticized for being too friendly toward the powerful Muslim Brotherhood movement, which made Coptic Christians and other minorities especially uncomfortable, Boules said.
Cherif Abou El Fadl, 24, of Van Nuys grew up in the U.S. with a law professor father who was tortured in his native country under the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak. While El Fadl thinks there were better choices for a new leader than Morsi, he sees what occurred this week as a step back — and reminiscent of the stories he grew up hearing.
"That's democracy, you elect someone and you let them run their course," he said. "If it doesn't work out, you elect someone else. Now the military is in control, they are shutting down all these TV stations and arresting people. That seems like a dictatorship to me. It sounds very dangerous."
Violence has erupted in the wake of Morsi's removal, with deaths and injuries reported as supporters of the ousted president and their opponents clash.