Southern California Egyptians sound off about this week’s developments in Egypt

Holy Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in L.A.'s Highland Park neighborhood was founded in 1974 by Egyptian immigrants. Most of them have been closely watching the turmoil in their native country.
Holy Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in L.A.'s Highland Park neighborhood was founded in 1974 by Egyptian immigrants. Most of them have been closely watching the turmoil in their native country. Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

Thousands of native Egyptians have called Southern California home for decades. Many of them are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church and left Egypt to escape persecution by Muslim extremists. Some outside a Coptic church in northeast Los Angeles, have definite opinions about the direction their home country should head.

Egyptian immigrants founded Holy Virgin Mary Church in Highland Park nearly 40 years ago. Now about 500 families come from near and far for services in Arabic and English. Odette Morcos drove from Glendale for the 6:30 Sunday morning service. Like others here, she’s been glued to her TV set watching the turmoil in her homeland. President Hosni Mubarak should leave, she says, but not immediately, as many back home demand.

"I want Hosni Mubarak to stay for the next eight months until fix everything," said Morcos.

Morcos and other members of this parish are worried that without Mubarak, there will be chaos that will benefit Muslim extremists. Last month a suicide bomber killed 21 people outside a Christian church in Alexandria. Retired banker Adib Awad talks to his relatives in Egypt about these troubles every day.

"They are worried about the system being taken out by the Muslim Brotherhood,"she said. "We don’t have anything against Muslim people but we would like to say very clearly that these people always act with violence."

The Muslim Brotherhood is not suspected of terrorist attacks in Egypt. It renounced violence in the 1970's, and it has condemned the attacks against Coptic Christians.

Here in southern California, the Egyptian community is helping the uprising in any way it can. Nadir Eskander left Egypt more than 30 years ago. He says members of this Coptic Orthodox church have supported the protests with rallies and prayer.

"We have been fasting for the last week, three consecutive days for the Lord to help what’s going on in Egypt and make everything smooth and make Christians in Egypt be safe," said Eskander.

Eskander and others here say they’re happy that their non-Egyptian friends are beginning to understand Egypt’s troubles. American public opinion and policy, they say, can help bring stability to their country.

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