Egyptian vigilantes hang thieves in public

Egyptian vigilantes beat two men accused of stealing a motorised rickshaw, stripped them half-naked and hung them by their feet in a crowded bus station in the Nile Delta on Sunday, according to security officials. Both men died.

A witness said some in the crowd of about 3,000 people who watched the lynchings egged them on with chants of “kill them!” The lynchings came a week after the attorney general’s office encouraged civilians to arrest lawbreakers and hand them over to police.

It was one of the most extreme cases of vigilantism in two years of sharp deterioration in security following Egypt’s 2011 uprising. The scene was emblematic of the chaos that is sweeping the country, mired in protests over a range of social, economic and political problems and with security breaking down to frightening proportions.

The state-run newspaper Ahram reported that the two men were dragged in the street after being caught “red-handed” trying to steal a rickshaw. It said they were beaten but alive before they were hung. Witnesses claimed the men had kidnapped a girl inside the rickshaw, but that she escaped unharmed.

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