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Baltagiya or Baltajiya (Egyptian Arabic: البلطجية[bɑltˤɑˈɡej.jɑ]), also Baltaga or Baltaja (البلطجة [bɑlˈtˤɑɡɑ]) is an Egyptian word that originally means "hatchet men", from Turkish: Baltacı, who were vigorous, disciplined and loyal servants to the Ottoman Empire, but it generally means "goons" or "thugs" or "gangs," who are often hired to attack regime targets.[1] Nonpolitical baltagiya gangs appeared in Egypt in the 1980s; in the 1990s the Egyptian police decided to hire them, "outsourcing coercion to these baltagiya, paying them well and training them to use sexualized brutality (from groping to rape) in order to punish and deter female protesters and male detainees, alike".[2] They gained international media attention when spotted in the fighting in Tahrir Square during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.[3] In the Port Said Stadium disaster on 1 February 2012, eyewitnesses accused the police of allowing baltagiya in plain clothes into the stadium with weapons and then not intervening to stop the violence.[4]

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  1. ^ Jacinto, Leela (9 February 2011). "Enter the 'baltagiya': Egypt's repression spills out of the torture chambers". France 24. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  2. ^ Amar, Paul (1 February 2011). "Why Mubarak is Out". Jadaliyya. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Francis, Thomas (4 July 2011). "Youth Protesters and Street Gangs Clash in Tahrir Square's Tent City". Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Ossenberg, Dietmar (1 February 2012). "Geplante Unruhen ("Planned rioting")". ZDF heute journal. Retrieved 13 February 2012.