Thugs

Another good video, also produced by Egypt's new online journalism. This is a series of interviews with protesters (many of them well-known activists) who all identify themselves as beltagiya ("thugs"), then go on to give their real professions (university professor, dentist, journalist) and the demands for which they have come to the square -- mocking the many who dismiss most protests and all clashes with the police as the work of the ubiquitous, infamous "thugs." (Reports suggest that the only verifiable thugs involved were plain-clothes reinforcement on the Ministry of Interior's side). 

The word beltagi refers to hired muscle--to neighborhood toughs (who have been part of Cairo neighborhoods forever), who under Mubarak were most often employed by the state, to intimidate voters and beat up demonstrators; but also by private individuals who needed something (say a business disagreement) taken care of and preferred to bring in their own men rather than the police. These days the word is a catch-all whose main effect is to obscure the real grievances and difference underlying any clash, casting a dismissive (class-inflected) smear over all participants. It can refer to anyone young, male, and of lower-class extraction; any protester whose views you don't understand or share; anyone engaged in or caught up in in violence. Every time a clash happens, this and a few other overused terms (the "remnants of the regime," "infiltrators") are thrown around -- lazily, fearfully and unhelpfully.