Egyptians taking the law into their hands sign of ‘state death’: Minister

Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki said that citizens punishing others for banditry and other crimes is a “sign of the death of the state.”

Speaking to Turkish Anadolu news agency on Sunday, Mekki said he was sorry to see citizens from Gharbiya take into their own hands the Sharia punishment for banditry, killing four thugs and mutilating their dead bodies on Sunday.

Mekki said the use of force is the right of the state and the fact that citizens are exercising it is a sign that the state is absent.

“A government that allows such practices is an oppressive one because it does not provide protection for its people,” he said.

The punishment for banditry in Islamic Sharia is the killing or crucifixion of those who threaten people with weapons to take their money, kill or rape them. Scholars have generally agreed, however, that only the ruler or the executive power should have the power to implement these punishments.

With the deterioration of security conditions in Egypt over the past two years, citizens have been implementing the punishment for banditry by themselves in several governorates.

The residents of the village of Mahallet Ziad killed two accused of abducting children, while residents of Shabra Malkan killed two accused of stealing cars.

News reports recently sparked controversy by claiming the public prosecutor gave citizens arrest powers.

The prosecutor general’s office however denied rumors that citizens have been granted arrest powers, saying this article is already part of the penal code. Critics nevertheless maintain that the general prosecutor gave a green light to vigilante justice.

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