A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Baltagiyya Reappear at Lazoghli

Ekram Ibrahim of Al-Ahram Online was one of the witnesses tweeting during the Lazoghli confrontations yesterday. Her firsthand account is here.

One of the more disturbing things about yesterday's clashes is the reappearance of baltagiyya, the "thugs" who regularly attacked demonstrators during the uprising. (On the word baltagi, see here.) Those yesterday were said to carry knives or swords, and may have been plainclothes State Security men. Thugs were also used by the National Democratic Party, the former ruling party. Yesterday the Army fired into the air to disperse crowds, but the thugs apparently were less gentle.

The 27 demonstrators detained by the Army have all now been released.

A brief aside for those unfamiliar with Cairo: Lazoghli refers properly to a traffic circle and neighborhood southeast of Tahrir where a number of major ministries are located; it's very near the Parliament building as well. But in popular parlance, Lazoghli has become shorthand for the Ministry of the Interior, and particularly State Security Inverstigations, headquartered there.

No comments: