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Originally published Saturday, July 6, 2013 at 1:55 PM

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Egyptians in Seattle divided after military overthrows Morsi

Seattle-area Egyptians have differing opinions regarding President Mohammed Morsi’s ouster and what it means for democracy.

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

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Egyptians in the Seattle area expressed divided opinions following last week’s ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. Many local Egyptians said they were not crazy about the former president’s job performance, but feared for the future of democracy in their home country.

“People are in shock,” Microsoft employee Ashraf Elswify said Friday, calling the demonstrations against Morsi and action by the country’s military commanders a coup.

Democracy is a recent arrival to Egypt, he said, and the implications for the country’s elected institutions, such as the presidency and parliament, are troubling.

“People have to learn to come to consensus,” Elswify said. “Even if we disagree, we have to follow certain processes.”

Two years ago, Elswify demonstrated in Westlake Center with other local Egyptians in favor of the revolution against former President Hosni Mubarak. Fellow Microsoft employee Alaa Badr led that downtown Seattle demonstration with a bullhorn.

Badr said some people are talking about holding another demonstration soon.

Badr said Egyptians had high expectations at the end of the revolution against Mubarak, but they should have given Morsi, who was in office only a year, more time.

“One year is not a good baseline of the president’s success,” he said. Morsi didn’t embezzle money or throw people in prison and torture them, Badr said. “He was doing his job running the country.”

Still, the biggest issue at stake is not whether Morsi should keep his job, but maintaining the legitimacy of democratic presidential elections, he said.

Wafa Abdelrhim runs the Five and Dime Diner in Tacoma and supported the movement against Morsi, calling him a puppet of the Muslim Brotherhood. Security and living conditions became worse under Morsi, he said, and he failed to build a coalition among political factions as promised.

“Democracy is when you elect somebody, and if he cannot fulfill his promises, why should he stay?” Abdelrhim said.

Still, he is worried for the country, as police and military forces clashed with pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators Friday.

“I’m afraid it’s going to get bloody for a little while before it settles down,” Abdelrhim said. “But I’m afraid that’s the path we have to take.”

Microsoft software engineer Wael Mahmoud was also in favor of Morsi’s removal. Mahmoud had voted for Morsi because he thought he was better than the other candidate in the second round of elections, Ahmed Shafiq, a former minister under the Mubarak regime. But Morsi’s performance was disappointing, he said.

“He failed to lead the people and unify them,” Mahmoud said.

Still, Mahmoud is afraid of the consequences of Morsi’s ouster, and whether it instructs Egyptians to exert political power through demonstrations rather than elections.

“They hold the street as a more influential place to be,” Mahmoud said.

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch: 206-464-3145 or aboikow@seattletimes.com

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