“Right now, there’s simply no other way for us to express ourselves”
When I first read about the campaign on Twitter, I was sceptical, because although I agreed with the objective, I was not sure it would be successful. But I soon decided to join in simply because there is no other way for those who oppose the Muslim Brotherhood and who are also opposed to the excessive force used by the military-backed government to make themselves heard. Taking to the streets is currently impossible, because we would be mistaken for Muslim Brotherhood supporters.I have been banging on my pots and pans for more than a week now. In my neighbourhood, there are many people taking part each night, but some of them are Muslim Brotherhood supporters taking part in a copycat campaign also launched via Twitter, described as an “anti-coup effort”. One night some neighbours who support the Muslim Brotherhood started banging their pots and chanting anti-coup chants, so I shouted back a couple of anti-Muslim Brotherhood chants to make it clear this wasn’t an anti-coup campaign. Everyone quickly fell silent.In this video sent by our Observer, you can hear him and neighbours in the Mohandiseen area clang pots and pans after curfew on August 21."Each side is eager to dismiss anyone who has a different point of view"A couple of nights ago, when I started banging my pots and others joined in, one of our neighbours, thinking it was part of the anti-coup campaign, started cursing everyone out. So I decided to explain. I shouted something like this out my window: “This campaign was called for by January 25 youth [those at the forefront of the revolution], who also took part in June 30 demonstrations against [deposed president Mohammed] Morsi. Today Egypt is split into two camps, either “anti-coup” or “anti-terrorism” [the army-backed government accuses the Muslims Brothers of terrorism]. Each camp thinks of the other as villains that must be shunned from society. Each side is eager to dismiss anyone who has a different point of view. The Masmou3 campaign aims to defy all sorts of fascism in our society and call for more inclusiveness. If you agree with this statement and want to join our campaign, please do.”I was worried more verbal abuse would follow, but many neighbours actually started to clap. Now, the clanging seems to be getting a little louder every night!
“This is not the ‘third way’ but the ‘first way’”
The press is completely muzzled and the streets are closed off due to the state of emergency. The only place where Egyptians can still express themselves is on social media. However, that’s not enough. We want to use social media as a starting point to reclaim public spaces. And when you bang on pots and pans, that’s pretty public!All we want is for the people to be able to express their basic needs: bread, freedom, and justice [the slogan of the January 25 revolutionary movement], which neither the army nor the Muslim Brotherhood has been able to meet. To me, this is not the ‘third way’ but the ‘first way’ – it’s the very foundation of any democracy.What’s funny about the copycat campaign launched by Muslim Brotherhood supporters is that they seem not to realise that this sound is now widely seen as being anti-Islamist, since Turkish demonstrators used it to protest against their own Islamists. So I think it’s great – they should continue!