The Sunday announcement by Egyptian Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdullah that citizens have the right to arrest "vandals" has caused a firestorm of controversy.Can religious police be far behind?
"Egypt's prosecutor-general urges all citizens to exercise the right afforded them by Article 37 of Egypt's criminal procedure law issued in year 1950 to arrest anyone found committing a crime and refer them to official personnel," said a statement issued by the prosecutor-general's office.
Another statement issued on Monday by the prosecutor-general's office said that "the statement of the prosecutor-general did not include granting 'judicial arrest' powers to citizens, but rather granting the judicial arrest to officers as defined officially in the law."
Nevertheless, the statements of the prosecutor-general opened an angry debate about security issues in the face of an ongoing police strike in a number of governorates.
A number of Islamist political groupings welcomed the initial statement of the prosecutor-general. State news agency MENA reported that Alaa Abu El-Nasr, the secretary-general of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's Building and Development Party, praised the move.
"Political powers have the right to have their own police force, to fight crimes in the street," said Nazer Gharab, a member of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya on Monday morning during an interview broadcast on CBC channel.
Gharab added that the ultra-conservative Islamist group would found its own "Islamist" police force to restore order in the street.
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