Baltagayya [Bəl-6ah-geyy-ah] Plural (بلطجي) [also spelled as: baltageya, baltageyya]
- hired thugs
- bully, criminal, goon
- ax holder with ability to cause harm and have people fear him
- wealad metnaka
Since January 25th, 2011 another word has become so hackneyed in political discourse to suit one side or another, that it has lost its meaning. The word Baltaggayya or in its singular form Baltagy, has been invoked often by the rulers in disingenuous ways to paint a picture often refuted by Egypt’s army of foot souldja citizen journalists. Having lived in five Arab countries, visited several more, and befriended almost all different Arabs while in the US, I only came across this word on a regular basis in Egypt or with Egyptians. It does have a negative connotation and has been defined as a “thug” or “tough guy”. The verbalizing of this noun can be defined as coercive, etc Beyitbaltag (He’s coercive)
2010 Elections in Egypt:
Even though it can refer to a common thug, I mainly recall the use of the word during the elections in Egypt. It was becoming common that the now deposed NDP head by Mubarak would hire thugs during parliamentary and presidential elections to intimidate voters that might skew the results against the scheming of the dictatorial ambitions of the incumbent party and/or president. Most recently was the 2010 parliamentary elections in which Baltagayya were hired to prevent voters from reaching polling stations. Back then, the goal was to deny the Muslim Brotherhood any seats and avoid a repeat of the previous parliament’s 88 “independent” winners.
February 2nd 2011
Battle of the Camels different from Jan 28th. The Day of Anger brought us the decision by the criminal regime to unleash prisoners in the thousands from jails across Egypt, in the hope that they would terrorize the population, that would in turn capitulate and beg the Interior Ministry to take over once again. This tactic was a dismal failure. However, the point is, some of those (not all) were directed to attack people that had taken over Tahrir. Some of them ran around neighborhoods promoting regular people to organize the Popular committees on each block to protect their families, anarchy at its best. By the Battle of the Camels, the criminal regime had succeeded in rounding up the archetype of the Baltagayya.
There have been numerous instances of use of the word Baltagayya since Mubarak was dethroned. From the Imababa to the June 28th Balloon Cinema incident, to the Abbassayya march, to Maspero and Mohamed Mahmoud and many many more. From the point of view of the informed revolutionary in Tahrir, this word is appropriate for those who are attacking them with their fist and “white” weapons and molotovs. But from the SCAF perspective, it was a way to blame the violence on some third party, the infamous “invisible hands”. I highly recommend reading the following link for some in depth analysis: Revolution Interrupted? The baltageya by Adel Iskandar - http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/438943
Personal Experience with the Baltagayya
Mostafa Mahmoud – Kazeboun March – January 3rd, 2012