Tyler resident Anwar Khalifa said Friday he feels blessed to live in America but worries about his family in violence-gripped Egypt.
Bloodshed began there this week between supporters of now-deposed president Mohammed Morsi and the military-backed government.
Military raids Wednesday on pro-Morsi camps left an estimated 580 dead and 4,000 wounded, according to news reports.
"I haven't talked with anyone today, but I am in constant contact with them," said the Egyptian-born Khalifa, 52, Pyramid Homes president.
Khalifa has lived in Texas for 44 years –- 24 of them in Tyler. He is active in the East Texas Muslim community. There are few Americans of Egyptian descent in East Texas, he said.
He prays for his family and peace and prosperity for Egypt.
"They are the ones fighting the fight, not us," Khalifa said. His niece there is 17 and preparing to begin classes at a university in the fall. But she can't take the required exams, Khalifa said.
"There were roadblocks up on both sides, and she got to the entrance, they told her the school was closed," he said.
He said his brother-in-law, a physician, can't get around easily. Khalifa's uncles, aunts, cousins and family members of his wife, Hala, tell him that daily life is hard.
Khalifa criticized political figures in Egypt for using their office for personal gain.
"Egypt has everything it needs to be great — it is held back by people who only care about themselves and not the country," he said.
He described himself as a "supporter of democracy" and said that Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, should have been allowed to serve out his term.
"At least here (in the U.S.), the president can only be in office for eight years," Khalifa said. He added that term limits for Congress would be a good idea.