San Antonio's Egyptian community cheers Morsy's overthrow

Coptic Christians hopeful future will be brighter for them

SAN ANTONIO – Egypt's military announced Wednesday it was ousting its first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsy, following days of protests.

The second revolution in 2 years sets Egypt on a new course.

Egyptian Americans in San Antonio have been watching the developments closely, including a priest of a local church that has its roots in Egypt.

Father Antonios Girgis is a priest at St. Anthony Coptic Orthodox Church. The Coptic's are one of the oldest Christian communities in the world and make up the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

"I think it is a day of jubilee not just for the Copts really but for the whole Egypt," said Father Antonios Girgis. "This is really putting the first revolution back in place because it was almost lost."

Like most Egyptian Americans Girgis has been keeping close tabs on the overthrow of Morsy.

He credited the millions of Egyptians who took to the streets protesting Morsy's rule and the growing influence of his political party the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Especially if you see the millions of young people that really forced the whole scenario and the whole story to come about," Girgis said. "We are all celebrating today and we are all gathered under the Egyptian flag."

For centuries, followers of the Coptic religion have faced violent religious persecution.

"We are the church of martyrs, we have suffered persecution after persecution, hardship after hardship," Girgis said.

Under the Hosni Mubarak regime most of the violence was kept in check but it exploded when Morsy took power.

Two months ago, Muslim extremists attacked the heart of the Coptic church, St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo where the Coptic Pope is seated.

Many blamed the Morsy administration for not providing adequate protection for the church.

"It was attacked, and there was big violence around and in the Cathedral, it was quite unprecedented and very insulting," Girgis said.

The Copts and their Pope are now finding a seat at the table as the Morsy opposition plans the country's future.

Girgis is hopeful this revolution will produce a more united Egypt where politics are no longer dominated by religion but he admits it could be a dangerous time for Egyptian Copts.

"You never know,' Girgis said. "but let's be optimistic."

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.

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