Egyptian activists in search of middle way for their country demand to be heard

Campaign aims to encourage opposition to both the political Islam and military hegemony

Cairo

Khalid Abdalla is optimistic. In the wake of the worst mass killings Egypt has known in its modern history, he appears to be one of the few to remain so. As Cairo suffocates under a night-time curfew, and Egyptians count their massacres, there are plenty of reasons to worry about the fate of this country.

But amid the deepening polarisation, one group of activists is attempting to forge a path which steers clear of the rising tide of hysteria and hostility.

According to Mr Abdalla, an English-Egyptian actor who helped found a media and film organisation in Cairo following the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the so-called “Masmoua”, or “Heard” campaign, is an attempt to reject the political extremes which led to the unprecedented bloodshed of last week.

Founded just four days ago, it aims to encourage opposition to both the political Islam and military hegemony.

“I believe the majority of people in this country don’t want to live under fascism,” said Mr Abdalla, speaking to The Independent today. The Masmoua movement, he said, was about trying to “create a space in which we get beyond” the extremities which are wrenching the country apart.

Ever since the popular coup on 3 July, which led to the toppling of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt has appeared dangerously divided. Despite an ostensibly civilian-led transition, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the country’s top soldier, still appears to be tugging the political strings.

Egypt’s Islamists, meanwhile, continue to be the ghosts at the revolutionary feast. Several hundred were massacred last week, while security services have arrested hundreds more up and down the country. With Monday’s killings of more than two dozen policemen by militants in Sinai, along with continued attacks against churches and Christian businesses, an obsequious media is also whipping up fears of the terrorist menace.

The Masmoua campaign uses unorthodox methods to get its point across. Every night, at 9pm, supporters are asked to clatter on a kitchen pan outside their window to register their disapproval.

The idea originated from a similar technique used during the recent protests against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey.

But in Egypt, where protesters in Tahrir Square now erect posters of long-dead generals instead of demanding the collapse of the regime, the Masmoua movement represents an effective way of reclaiming the power of protest, according to Mr Abdalla.

“At the moment, not only are we silenced,” he said, “but we don’t have any place for our voice to go. We don’t have a ballot box. We don’t have any representatives.

“We don’t even have the street. This is why it is essential that the home becomes the battleground.”

Egypt has become a place where political allegiances can sometimes invite disapproving scrutiny.

One prominent Cairo-based academic told The Independent how his mother had recently urged him to shave his beard, such is the level of anti-Islamist hostility from some quarters in what has long been a conservative country.

Aalam Wassef, a film-maker who has also joined the Masmoua campaign, said that some people had not taken kindly to the movement.

“We get suspicion and disapproval,” he said. “There is the suspicion among some that we are Muslim Brotherhood in disguise. Or we are bashed for being irresponsible, or told we are naïve for not sticking by the military.

“Our campaign is about reviving optimism. History teaches us that when dictatorships become more and more violent it’s because they have lost the grip they used to have.”

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week