Screen capture from the second video below.
At 9 pm in Cairo, when the curfew begins, the streets grow eerily quiet – except, here and there, for the sound of clanging pots and pans. This is the result of a campaign launched by Egyptians who support neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor the army-backed government.
Inspired by Turkish protesters who used the same technique during massive anti-government protests in May, a group of Egyptian citizens made a call on Twitter on August 17 asking anyone who was tired of the battle between the Muslim Brotherhood and the army, and that felt that neither represented them, to start banging on their kitchenware at the start of curfew every night. They also made short videos to promote their campaign, which they dubbed “Masmou3”, meaning “heard”.
While not officially linked to any one group, the campaign is seen by many of its supporters as an offshoot of the ‘Third Square’ movement, born just two weeks before Morsi was toppled in the beginning of July. This movement also seeks to bring together those who support neither the army nor the Muslim Brotherhood. With the current curfew, ‘Third Square’ supporters are no longer able to organise any street protests.
A song written by Masmou 3 supporters. The lyrics translate to: "Freedom is coming, freedom is on its way / It will be hear very soon / They've killed our dreams, they've killed our future / But keep your head high, and sing even louder / Stay true to your convictions, because freedom is coming".
“Right now, there’s simply no other way for us to express ourselves”
Mohamed Karim El Sawy is a consultant who lives in Cairo.
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’”
Aalam Wassef is an artist and editor in Cairo. He has been supporting the Masmou3 campaign since day one.
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!