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.
"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

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid