Members of Tulsa's Egyptian community had divided reactions Wednesday as news spread of the Egyptian army's suspension of the country's constitution and ousting of President Mohammed Morsi from office.
"This is absolutely nowhere near a military coup. This is 22 or more million people wanting this administration gone," said Fadel Iskander, who co-owns Technical Programming Service Inc. in Tulsa with his brother Atef Iskander.
"This is exactly what happened with (former President Hosni) Mubarak (in 2011). They didn't call it a military coup back then, and it's not a coup now.
"This is the will of the people," Iskander continued. "This will make Morsi realize what he couldn't see."
He said Egypt's infrastructure slipped further into disrepair during Morsi's time in office.
"There were food shortages, electric brownouts and blackouts, and oil was in short supply (in Egypt)," Iskander said. "People were struggling before the revolution, and things went from bad to worse. People really couldn't deal with it, and they wanted out."
Not all Egyptians in Tulsa were happy about Wednesday's demonstrations, however. Khalid Aly, an internal medicine doctor for Hillcrest Healthcare System's clinic in Pryor, just returned from Egypt and said he thinks Morsi's removal could set a dangerous precedent.
"I don't think this is the right way to do this," he said. "If people don't like the next person, they could just … oust him."
Aly returned to the United States from Egypt on Sunday, but his wife, Lamiaa Aly, and their children remain in the country until July 12, he said.
"I've been checking with them on the phone. I thank God they're safe," Ali said. "The safety issue is a big concern, so I've made sure they just try to stay at home at this point until things calm down a little bit."
Daniel Lerman, a senior in the University of Oklahoma's Arabic Language Flagship Partner Program, is experiencing Egypt's political upheaval firsthand as an exchange student at Alexandria University in Alexandria, Egypt.
He was to have been studying the language there for a full year before it was decided that the program will be transferred to Morocco on Friday.
Lerman, who is from Arlington, Va., described the days leading up to Morsi's removal as "tense" and "frustrating" but said he wasn't surprised by Wednesday's events.
"I have heard anti-Morsi slogans being chanted from outside the window of my dormitory, and I could also hear such slogans being chanted from the area adjacent to the University of Alexandria campus," he said via email from Egypt.
"Before the recent upheaval, we were able to take taxis to and from campus, and we were not subjected to curfews and travel restrictions. After the protests broke out, we were increasingly confined to our dormitories and were less able to go out and mingle with ordinary Egyptians outside of an academic setting."
Lerman and other exchange students will remain in Alexandria University's student dormitories until their flight on Friday, he said.
Another OU senior, Siera Collins of Belton, S.C., is studying international relations and Arabic language/literature in Alexandria, according to the university.
Suzette Grillot, the dean of OU's College of International Studies, said the university is concerned with its students' safety and continues to monitor Egypt's political situation.
"We worked closely with the American Councils for International Education and our Arabic Flagship colleagues to examine the safety and security environment in Egypt and made the decision to evacuate the students from the country," Grillot said.