Definition: Baltagayya [Bəl-6ah-gey-yah]


Baltagayya [Bəl-6ah-geyy-ah] Plural (بلطجي)  [also spelled as: baltageya, baltageyya]


  1. hired thugs
  2. bully, criminal, goon
  3. ax holder with ability to cause harm and have people fear him
  4. wealad metnaka
Origin:  Balta ( بلطة ); Ottoman era; Turkish.

Related forms

Bal-ta-gy, single male
yet-bal-tag, verb
Bal-ta-ga, noun

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. YouTube Preview Image

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.

Post-February 11th

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 –

It’s such an absurd word to use now, many in #Tahrir openly call themselves a baltagy.

Personal Experience with the Baltagayya

Mostafa Mahmoud – Kazeboun March – January 3rd, 2012


Most recently, I finally had the chance to meet some baltagayya up close and personal.  I went to Mostafa Mahmoud to meet my beautiful friend Rousky a.k.a. @Rouelshimi .  There was a march planned for the area of Mohandeseen under the Kazeboun movement which started after the events in Qasr Al-Aini in December with the SCAF denying everything people were watching live, and later on television and internet.
As I arrived to the march, I saw only about 20 people there.  It was frankly disheartining, but I figured maybe we are the 20 freaks who actually arrive on time.  I have no expectations of the punctuality issue in Egypt being solved immediately, but it would’ve definetly been in my favor.
Among the people, I saw a young man, no older than 23 years old shouting.  As I approached even closer, he saw me and came running up to my face within inches and with a very accusing tone and at the top of his voice asking me “and who are you?”  I replied, “Who are you?  I’m walking in the street and saw you yelling out.”  He spread out his arms as to signal his readiness for physical confrontation, but the people joining the protest obviously understood what we are dealing with and signaled quietly for me to not confront him.
So I turned my head away and he continued with the same away to other people in the immediate vicinity.
Another two joined him within minutes, accusing everyone of being part of the April 6th movement, the “traitors” and that no gatherings will take place at the location where we stood.  One of these men had a full face ski masks (without holes in the mask for his eyes), he wore a wife beater, and I think he also carried a wooden stick.  The other found electric cables on the ground and threatened to electrocute all the April 6th people he could find.  They also repeated the same mantra we hear on State TV, “April 6th has ruined our country!” as if they were responsible for January 25th that eventually allowed for elections, o wait, they did contribute to that.  But this doesn’t fly anymore, the baseless accusations by the SCAF that they are foreign funded group looking to cause Egypt harm and destruction was refuted by independent investigations, but the power of suggestion is strong, and maybe their billions of US aid money has an affect too. Maybe.
So the 20 or so protesters starting walking away from this scene.  But the first man started running around, feeling a little more empowered, and started to lightly physically abuse people walking away “If you are a man, say you’re April 6th!” To admit would be to declare a fight.  But I doubt anyone there was April 6th and denied being so.
After trying to instigate with the two guys in front of me, he finally reached me again.  Up close to my face again he repeated. “Just admit you are April 6th!”  Then decides to strike me in the chest.  As I stepped back to absorb the blow and try to assess the situation, the other two came from behind me and all of a sudden all three were kicking me and punching my face.  The whole ordeal lasted a few minutes and I believe some of the protesters were the ones who eventually separated us.
I returned home, checked twitter, found out the march had re-grouped and was to continue.  I went back down to join them and found hundreds.  We marched all the way to Gas Station in Mossadda2.  Yasqot Yasqot 7om El 3askar!  Down with SCAF!
@SimonJHanna of Ahram Online filmed my testimony here in a Kazeboon report (minute 3:13)
YouTube Preview Image
Power in Numbers.  Unity.  Let us all go down on January 25th 2012.  The Revolution Continues!

Leave a Reply