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 Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, US demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid