Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Local Egyptians cheer as Morsi out

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The Egyptian flag now flies outside one Winnipeg church at which the members' prayers were answered this week with the ouster of Egypt's president and his Muslim Brotherhood party.

"They're ecstatic," said Sophy Louka of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church.

Coptic means Egyptian and the Christian minority in Egypt has long faced persecution.

The week before Mohammed Morsi was removed from power by the Egyptian military, Canadian Coptic Bishop Mina directed the faithful to pray for three days last week for God to intervene in Egypt. On Wednesday, Morsi and the Brotherhood were gone.

"It's miraculous," said Louka, asked to speak on behalf of St. Mark by pastor Fr. Marcos Farag.

"(People) are saying there's no way, in one night, we'd get rid of the Brotherhood."

The party had been trying to win power for so long, people thought once they had it, they'd never let it go, she said. It promised to represent every sector of society when it came to power but didn't, said the woman who last visited Egypt in May.

"Their vision was not taking care of Egypt," she said. "They got their chance and botched it."

The majority wanted Morsi out before more harm was done to the country's ailing economy, said Ab Freig, an expatriate Egyptian living in Winnipeg.

"He was driving the country into the ground," said the business consultant. "People are having a hard time making ends meet and relieved to see him go. Their lives have worsened tremendously and inflation has gone through the roof," said the Muslim.

"It was not a military coup," added Louka. The military just stepped in to continue the revolution the youth started and was hijacked by Morsi and the Brotherhood, she said.

"Now its back en route."

In Cairo on Friday, tens of thousands of Islamists streamed across a Nile River bridge toward Tahrir Square, threatening a showdown moments after the top leader of the Muslim Brotherhood defiantly spoke before a cheering crowd of supporters, vowing to reinstate Morsi and end military rule.

At least one demonstrator was killed in clashes between Morsi supporters and security forces outside the headquarters of the Republican Guard, news reports said.

Freig said he hopes a new regime is elected before more blood is shed in his former country.

"I'm not concerned about civil war," he said. "I am more concerned about loss of life and casualties from clashes that will take place."

He added he's not worried about the military hanging on to power.

"The military learned their lessons last time from the people" after protests forced former military-backed president Hosni Mubarak from office, Freig said. "We want a civilian government and we want elections," he said. "The military knows. The population showed its power."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 A9

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