Friday, 4 March 2011

The New Bogyman: Al-Baltagy

Egyptians now currently complain about the lack of safety. On the one hand, a taxi driver today told me smilingly that hundreds of qism ash-shurta (police stations – where people used to be tortured) were burnt during the revolution. This is the reason why most of the police-officers flew and only the traffic-police is operating at the moment. On the other hand, people –especially the ones who are living in the popular neighborhoods– constantly express their fear of the baltagiyya.
Al-baltagiyya mostly means crimes of illegal and violent appropriation of someone else’s belongings like robbery or burglary. However, the baltagy seems also to operate as some kind of contractual killer or violent punisher who might be hired against an enemy. The squadrons liberated from prison which Mubarak’s regime sent out against the demonstrators where composed of this kind of criminals.
Be it as it may, the main function of the baltagy, at the very moment, seems to be the one of a bogyman who might come and punish the youth who are starting to behave in quite too liberal a manner for the taste of the traditional, patriarchal families… 

The youth are the heroes of the day. They have made the revolution succeed. Because of their patience to camp even in the rain and cold the old patriarch was chased away from power. How can their parents prevent them now from leaving the family home and from proudly doing whatever they please? The baltagy might catch them!!!

Text: “The Absence of the Police”, [the boy says to his parents]: "I have found out that the security is not stable in the country and as my dad refuses to go out, I will go!!"

Source: al-Masri al-Yom, 02 March 2011, p. 15.

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