Colored by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s call to fight terrorism through a popular mandate that brought millions to the streets, Egypt is witnessing a deepened polarization of the political scene. The increasingly-armed and charged Muslim Brotherhood sit-in that is now solidly going into its second month has added to this tension, contributing to the emergence of what many are referring to as the Third Square. A slowly growing movement with numbers nowhere near the millions already-mobilized, the Third Square is a rejection of the military establishment, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the remnants of the Mubarak regime.

By many accounts and, albeit not defined in these terms, the essence and drive behind the Third Square has existed since the January 25 Revolution, if not as early as the beginnings of the democracy movements in 2005. At the core of this movement and its predecessors is a rejection of the patriarchal, Brotherhood and government-based institutions that have patronizingly treated Egyptians like misbehaved and misguided children. Thus, the fight against Egypt’s broken institutions is at the heart of the fight for democracy, whether this fight began as early as 2005 or whether we restrict our analysis to the more recent revolutionary context.

Many rightfully criticize the Third Square as a movement without a greater goal or a long-term vision. In the most simplistic of terms, it is a broad-based rejection of a leader, of a group, of an institution, and thus, a means by which to attract and unite the lowest common denominator of protesters. While such styles of movements have been remarkably successful in removing Egypt’s ex-presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi and creating the pressure that moved Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi along the transition roadmap, they have left the question of a post-ousting vision unanswered. Coupled with this is the fact that the Third Square is only now formulating a vision and developing a reactionary mission statement, as depicted by the group’s social media presence and increasingly-growing daily protest representation. It is also unclear whether the group has political aspirations or whether it is meant to serve in a more symbolic capacity.

Despite such concerns and criticisms, the Third Square represents a significant and important aspect of the Egyptian political scene that has gone underreported. In essence, the Third Square is a reaction to the simplistic means by which domestic and international policymakers, citizens, and media sources have attempted to define what is happening in Egypt.

The Third Square is a reaction to the American obsession with determining whether or not the ousting of Morsi was a coup. It is an effort to reclaim the debate, refocus the conversation, and remind Egypt observers and commentators that democracy is much more complex and dynamic than the treatises of even the most brilliant of thinkers.

The Third Square is a reaction to the effort by both the army and the Muslim Brotherhood to paint the other side in broad brushes and use hefty and emotionally charged words like “terrorists” and “kuffar,” (infidels).  It is a cognizance that it is both possible to campaign for the ousting of Morsi and reject the principles, process, and means by which the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to dominate and subjugate the Egyptian people, but to also reject and mourn the death and massacring of pro-Morsi demonstrators.

Furthermore, the Third Square is a reaction to the dismal media coverage that has continued to plague both Egyptian and international television sets, as well as a rejection of the immense bias depicted by headlines that include phrases like ‘pro-democracy’ by once-professional media outlets like CNN and Al Jazeera and the complete radio silence by Egyptian liberal media like ONTV and CBC in their failure to stream and report on pro-Morsi protests. The Third Square is the realization that reporting on the ‘other’ side’s cause will not detract from one’s own movement, but rather enhance credibility.

In essence, while the Third Squares’ lifetime may not be extensive, its vision not comprehensive, and its mobilization slow, the movement’s symbolic value is beyond priceless. It is an effort by everyday Egyptians to reject the notion of a “black and white” political battle, to refuse to buy into “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” philosophy, and to humble analysts and Egypt observers, myself included, into a powerful and nuanced reminder that a one-size-fits-all political theory will never adequately explain Egypt’s evolving political scene.

The Third Square is a reminder that there is a third perspective, that there is a fourth, and that there is a fifth.

Mai El-Sadany is a law student at the Georgetown University Law Center, with an intent to focus on international and human rights law in the context of Middle East politics.