News / Middle East

Egypt's ‘Third Square’ Protests Reject Army, Islamists

"Third Square" activists shout slogans as they gather to oppose both parties at Sphinx Square in Cairo, July 30, 2013.
Reuters
A few lonely Egyptian activists are trying to stake out middle ground in the nationwide rift between an affronted Muslim Brotherhood and delighted supporters of the army's overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi.

Those rival camps have filled the streets with myriad demonstrators since General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted and jailed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader, on July 3.

Alarmed by the polarization and alienated by both sides, some Egyptians started up a "Third Square" movement promoting a middle way to avert conflict in the most populous Arab state.

"We are stuck between two bad options: an army killing without reason and an intolerant Islamist movement which wants a theocratic state," said Tariq Ismaeli, a 34-year-old civil engineer in jeans and red sneakers at a rally on Sunday.

"We are trying to establish a new voice," he said.

The rally in Cairo's Sphinx Square drew about 300 liberals, leftists and moderate Islamists dismayed by Saturday's carnage,  when security forces killed 80 Muslim Brotherhood partisans in clashes at a protest camp set up to demand Morsi's restitution.

Ismaeli and his colleagues have used Facebook and Twitter to marshal several rowdy demonstrations in downtown Cairo, seeing themselves as heirs of the popular uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30 years of one-man rule in 2011.

Their banners carry the faces of Morsi and Sisi crossed out in red and a blunt message: “Topple all who betrayed us. No to theocracy. No to the military junta. Yes to a civil state.”

They hope Sphinx Square will become the kernel of a new opposition movement, though their numbers are dwarfed by the Brotherhood's month-old vigil and one manned round the clock in Tahrir Square by supporters of the army's intervention.

"Lunatics and dreamers"

Third Square is attracting some attention, if mostly online.

Its Facebook page wins around 1,000 new "likes" a day and is bedecked with jokes and cartoons lampooning political leaders - a contrast to the reverence of their rivals.

"They've created a space where the original attitude of the revolution expresses itself, where the aims of the revolution are remembered. They're keeping an ember alive," Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian novelist endorsing the campaign, told Reuters.

But for now, their message is being swept out of public view by the sheer numbers of Egypt's main opposing camps.

When those at Third Square's first protest last week heard that a huge pro-Sisi march was approaching the venue en route to Tahrir Square, they scattered into the night fearing a fight.

Tamarod, the group that organized mass anti-Morsi protests and now supports the army-installed interim government, accuses Third Square of splitting Egypt's "revolutionary forces."

"I see in this moment Third Square dividing the people. They are living in the past. Now is the time for consensus, we need to move forward," Tamarod spokesman Mohammed Abdul Aziz said.

Pro-Morsi demonstrators camped near a mosque in northeastern Cairo say they will tolerate other protest movements as long as they oppose the military's plunge into politics.

"Even if Morsi doesn't come back, at least the army has two squares to deal with," said Abdulrahman Daour, a spokesman at the Brotherhood camp. "I don't mind people opposing Morsi. Just don't betray the revolution. Don't give power to the military."

Third Square may have little impact on the Brotherhood and the army, Egypt's two most organized institutions, analysts say.

"I don't think they will get much traction. The country is too polarized. It's a zero sum game," said Adel Abdel Ghafer, an Egypt scholar at the Australian National University.

"You are against the army which has the monopoly on violence... and the Brotherhood which has a religious legitimacy argument. So you're basically against everybody," he said.

However, Third Square organizers point to the power of ideas.

“Back in 2011 when we started protesting against Hosni Mubarak, we were insulted. They called us lunatics and dreamers,” said 30-year-old Ahmed Nasr. “It's not about the numbers, it's about the cause.”

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

UN Tackles Illicit Wildlife Poaching Amid Cecil the Lion Uproar

The 193-member General Assembly adopts its first resolution on the issue following a two-year campaign by Germany and Gabon More

Trump Tops Poll as Rivals Battle to Make Debate

Donald Trump jumps into a big lead in Republican presidential race, according to latest poll More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
August 01, 2013 2:41 AM
This third square denys army and Islamists. Are they oppose not only Islam brotherhood but all Muslims? So they are secular people, that is Christianity?Anyway, I suppose this kind of minor party would need strong leaders in order to survive the political struggle and implement their ideals, or they would be dismissed automatically before long.

by: Dr. Malek Towghi from: USA
July 31, 2013 4:23 PM
By immediately stopping the too generous $1.5 billion annual aid to the Egyptian military and openly condemning theocracy, simultaneously, my country, the USA, can help this great (Third Square) movement.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs