03/23/2013, 00.00
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Egypt without justice: angry mobs and vigilantes, criminals hanged from trees

These are some of the fruits of the police strike. The Attorney General Talaat invites people to stop the criminals. In the villages, private guards administer justice. In the Nile Delta, the "vigilantes" hang and torture two men suspected of kidnapping.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The clash between the Muslim Brotherhood and the police on strike for weeks, has further transformed an already unstable Egypt into a land of anarchy where the only law that applies is sharia. The appeal made a few days ago by the Attorney General Talaat Abdullah, who encouraged civilians to arrest the criminals and bring them to police, has sparked hangings, lynchings, mutilations and attempted crucifixion in villages and suburbs. In a few weeks the Islamists have organized groups of "vigilantes" to administer justice. Most of them belong to Gamaa al-Islamiya, which recently asked the authorities for permission to carry arms. In a press conference, Interior Minister Ahmed Mekki described the recent lynchings as "the death of the state" criticizing the appeal launched by Talaat Abdullah.

The security vacuum that started with the police strike is throwing the country into chaos. The cases of beatings and attempts at private justice are increasing day by day. Yesterday in the village of el-Guindiya in the province of Sharqiya (500 km north of Cairo), in the Nile Delta region, an angry mob tied a man suspected of stealing to a tree beating him to death. On 17 March, a group of "vigilantes" in the village of Sammound in the governorate of Gharbiya hanged two people accused of trying to kidnap a girl who was on board a rickshaw. They were first lynched, then stripped naked and then hanged from a tree. Once dead improvised guards them hung upside down as a warning to criminals. The incident occurred in front of the whole village who shouted "Kill them, kill them." A photographer who witnessed the scene told The Associated Press (AP) that he had received death threats if he took pictures of the lynchings. Another case occurred on the following day in Mahallah Ziad in the same governorate. A crowd of hundreds of people surrounded one of the few active police stations trying to capture and execute a man suspected of kidnapping a local girl. Al-Muneer, spokesman for the Gharbiya Muslim Brotherhood stresses that the lynchings are the result of a wave of rapes and robberies by criminal gangs, who have been plaguing the region for months. The man explains that police are too few in the governorate and fail to administer justice, so the people have decided to take matters into their own hands.

There is a similar situation in Upper Egypt, where crime is compounded by clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians. To "restore" order the Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and the Muslim Brotherhood have offered to replace the police with private security gangs with the right to bear arms and make arrests.


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