The Problem of the Baltagayyah

The most recent story in this lamentable chain of media reports is that of “protestors” in Alexandria turning on one another — internecine violence tainting otherwise peaceful, festive demonstrations of the Egyptian people. This story is, of course, patently untrue.

Submitted by Ed on February 2, 2011

To see the enormity of this falsehood and the many others like it (e.g. “protests turn to looting”) one truly has to understand the reach and extent of the Egyptian security services, particularly the notorious Baltagayyah. Loosely translated to “thugs”, Blatagayyah are more than just your run of the mill voyous. The word has a special relevance for just about everyone in Egypt: that of the paid paramilitaries of the Egyptian state. There are a lot of these fuckers, and they are the prime agents provocateurs of the Egyptian state. Conspiratorial stories of security services actually perpetrating looting, attacking peaceful protestors, or destroying property and businesses are far too often, if not always, true.

Let’s get this straight, this is not the worry about a few bad seeds on the murky fringes of the para-state. The Mubarak regime has maintained a concerted policy of introducing plainclothes thugs into protest situations, sometimes armed with weapons, but always with the impunity to violently quash even the slightest dissent (and the presence of these baltagayyah is inevitably in addition to the obscene amount of uniformed security officers the government will usually deploy to any demonstration, no matter how small). It’s not always certain whether these thugs are full time employees of the regime or simply bored individuals with a penchant for violence and a hankering for a few extra bucks and a chicken sandwich in exchange for a day’s work of beating the hell out of some demonstrators. What is certain is that rarely does any political protest or demonstration go down in Cairo without a healthy dose of baltagayyah violence.

As far as the current protests in Egypt are concerned, we’ve seen them setting fire to cars, destroying small businesses, terrorizing protestors and ordinary citizens alike and looting neighborhoods. All this while disguised as “ordinary Egyptians.” This has been enough to confuse and distort much of the international reporting of protest events. What must be understood is that the baltagayyah are sowing fear and violence to deliberately frighten and terrorize ordinary people. They work by making Egyptians and the outside world question who is perpetrating this violence, but this gruesome charade must be known and publicized because the only result of such fear and doubt is further violence against demonstrators.

Taken from Occupied London.