Dar Al-Ifta said it is “not permissible for individuals to take retribution or revenge into their own hands, outside the law and the state’s institutions,” in a Monday statement.
The institution said “issuing calls by some individuals or groups to take retribution or revenge from specific people… is a forbidden act” and added that religious scholars unanimously agree on this.
Dar Al-Ifta is responsible for issuing fatwas or religious edicts followed by Sunni Muslims. It said anyone who does take this type of action into their own hands will have “committed a crime against the state and against society”.
The statement stressed that in a country of institutions, penalties are carried out by the relevant authorities. Therefore, if people carry out penalties themselves, “it is an aggression on the job of the state and its authorities and it is this that leads to chaos and disrupts public order”.
It added that doing so also deforms the image of Islam.
Hundreds of people have died as a result of political turmoil in Egypt in 2011, including protesters who were killed in clashes with police or during dispersals of protest encampments.
Without the perpetrators being brought to justice, political groups of various affiliations have continued to call for and justice and “retribution for the martyrs”.
In some cases, calls for retribution target specific individuals believed to have been involved in the killings.
Among the most notorious of these incidents is one which dates back to November 2011 when police officer Mahmoud Sobhy Al-Shennawy was caught on camera deliberately targeting the eyes of protesters during clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street.
Images of him and his personal details quickly surfaced on social media and were widely circulated, with people issuing threats to him and his family.
Militancy in Egypt has surged since July 2013, mostly targeting military and police personnel and facilities. According to a fact sheet prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April, 477 police personnel died since 2011.