Between Tahrir and Rabaa: The Third Square

A grassroots group of young Egyptian revolutionaries fights the polarisation between the military and the Islamists.

Cairo, Egypt – It seems like Egypt is a country torn in two directions: Those for the military and those who support the Muslim Brotherhood.

But twice now – once on Friday and again on Sunday – a grassroots group of young revolutionaries from a number of groups involved in the January 25, 2011 uprising have gathered at the Sphinx Square in Giza to voice their disapproval of both the military and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The movement, which includes members of the Revolutionary Socialists and the April 6th Youth Movement, among other others, has also attracted a number of independent activists who don’t identify with a particular group, but agree with the goals of the Third Square (not to be confused with the Islamist Third Current).

“First of all, if we’re talking about the revolution on January 25 [2011], we had some hopes, and after our presidential election, we found that [Mohamed] Morsi couldn’t fulfil the hopes and demands of the revolution,” said Mohamed Shatta, 29.

“But at the same time we’re against the rule of the military…both regimes can’t provide the needs of the revolution.”

Shatta, who does not belong to any group, said he did not participate in the Tahrir Square pro-military rally nor the pro-Morsi sit-in in Nasr City and Giza because he disagrees with their goals and finds them divisive.

“The Third Square is here to continue the revolution and we want all these people guilty of crimes from the military, from the Muslim Brotherhood and from the current regime,” said Shatta, a logistics officer at an NGO.

“We want to unite people on one priciple…We our trying to defend our rights and civilian rule in Egypt…we are now controlled by the army, we are not controlled by (interim president) Adly Mansour

Gigi Ibrahim, an activist with the Revolutionary Socialists told me that the group is not yet a formal coalition, but that it “might gain momentum and become a front or a coalition.”

While the numbers at the group’s earlier Sphinx Square protest don’t begin to compare the number of people seen at Tahrir Square or the sit-in in Nasr City, it is starting to gain some attention. Its Facebook page has over 11,000 “Like” and is growing.

While there are many comments encouraging the grassroots, informal coalition, the criticism and debate on the page are also telling.

One pro-military visitor to the page blasted the organisers of the Third Square protests, saying that “this is not the time for more division – let’s get of the Muslim Brotherhood first.

A Muslim Brotherhood supporter, meanwhile, accuses the those who participate in the Third Square protests of comforting themselves with a false neutrality.

“You’re not taking the righteous path” writes the poster.

“You’re trying to keep yourself on the good side by staying in between, but you know we’re right.”

The Third Square is new still – it remains to be seen if it manages to keep its stance or if its members will end up taking the side of either the military or the Muslim Brotherhood.

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