Despite being democratically elected, and the first Egyptian president to be democratically elected, the ascension of Mohamed Morsi was far from universally recognised as legitimate.


His troubled year as president was marked by increasingly vocal protests, even from those who once instigated the toppling of dictator President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

But Mr Morsi had, obviously, millions of supporters, too.

In Australia, Egyptian Australians reflect the divided opinions of their home country, and the dramatic events yesterday have deepened those divisions.

The Australian Coptic Association’s Samir Habashy says the crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi was warranted.

Mr Habashy says the protesters were given fair warning to leave, and as they were preventing residents near the camps from leading a normal life, it was time for them to be dispersed.

He also claims the Muslim Brotherhood has been inciting violence against the minority Christian population in retaliation.

“They went around Egypt and they have received orders from the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood to do a lot of troubles around. So they’ve burned now 23 churches, two Coptic schools and they’ve killed six Copts in Egypt,” says Mr Habashy.

“But I believe that those Muslim Brotherhood, they cannot last too much in front of the population of Egypt because the Egyptian people believe quite well that those fanatics haven’t got to rule Egypt and they are behind the army and the police,” he says.

Lending weight to Mr Habashy’s claims are media reports that Morsi supporters burnt Christian-owned businesses as well as schools and churches after the security force crackdown.

But other Egyptian Australians say the army and police action against pro-Morsi demonstrators was a massacre.

Dozens of protesters gathered at Lakemba railway station in Sydney last night demanding international condemnation of the Egyptian military action.

One of those present at the protests was Mohammed Helal, who told the ABC it was a spontaneous protest to voice their concerns about the death of democracy in Egypt.

“That is a process of killing any opposition to this new interim government that came out by the military coup. Anyone who voices their opposition is being jailed or killed. And even all the media that opposes them is closed down, and this is the unfortunate thing that is happening in Egypt now,” says Mr Helal.

WATCH: Egyptian Australians protest against Cairo violence in Lakemba

According to Samir Habashy, he believes the Muslim Brotherhood camps in Cairo were filled with arms.

He says the Egyptian security forces were attacked by Muslim Brotherhood supporters and had no choice but to go in hard to disperse them.

“For sure because they had a lot of different arms and they are being supported by al-Qaeda groups and they have been supported by Hamas groups, from Palestinian Hamas groups, and they have some of them among them, it was a bit hard for the army and the police to vanquish them quickly,” says Mr Habashy.

But Mohammed Helal dismisses that argument.

“Really the interim government or that temporary government is lying all the way and they can fabricate anything to justify their brutal crackdown to a peaceful demonstration and sit-in,” he says.

The Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, says the Australian government is sending a strong message through its embassy in Cairo that the violence in Egypt must stop.

Senator Carr says the government shares the concerns of Egyptian-Australians.

“My message to all Australians with an interest in this is simply that the Australian government unreservedly condemns violence, the loss of life. We urge a return by the government of Egypt to a peaceful engagement with the demonstrators. And we want minorities in the country to be protected, ” says Mr Carr.

Bob Carr claims he is not aware of any Australians being caught up in the bloodshed.

But he has reiterated a Department of Foreign Affairs travel warning issued following the latest violence.

“The advice for Australian tourists is reconsider your need to go to Egypt. For those there, we recommend that Australians in Egypt return, it’s as simple as that. Certainly while they’re there they ought to avoid scenes of demonstrations or protests. But given the capacity of the situation to deteriorate quickly, our advice to Australians there would be to take a path back to Australia as soon as possible.”