Vigilante and Mob Justice


By Ghassan Karam Special to Ya Libnan

The murderous events that took place at the village of Ktirmaya in Lebanon were an abomination that must be condemned by all. It is true that a gruesome crime was committed against the peaceful Mr. and Mrs.  Abu Merei and their two grandchildren. But it is equally true that a suspect for this heinous crime was in police custody. As is usual in these cases the perpetrator is asked to show how the crime was committed. While the suspect was “acting the crime” a mob from the village attacked the suspect, while in police custody; and proceeded to deliver a physical beating that was stopped in the nick of time by the authorities who then transported Mr. Mohammad Mosalam to a local hospital at the town of Siblin. Unfortunately the mob was not satisfied with the results of its handy work and so it reorganized and this time managed to storm the hospital and deliver the final blows to the suspect.

The suspect has become the villain, thanks to mob rule and vigilante justice. But this was not enough for the mob, its sense of revenge and thirst for blood was not over. The mob tied Mr. Mosalam to the back of a car which was driven all the way back to the village square. And thus the criminal becomes the victim while the rule of law becomes trampled upon by a mob intent on taking the law into its own hands.

But this is not the end of the gore and mayhem that ruled over the village, the mob would not be satisfied until the cloths were taken off the victim and then he was hung half naked from a pole at the village square so that the whole world can witness the savagery and “bravery” of a mob gone wild. This was an infamous day for civil society, for law and order and for the authorities themselves. The PSP needs to be commended for issuing a statement in which it condemned these dastardly events.

I am sure enough still photos and maybe even video clips were taken of the happenings on this bloody afternoon. These must be put to good use,they should be used to identify the perpetrators and apprehend them in an effort to send a very clear message that there is no room for vigilante activities since vigilante justice is the biggest injustice of them all. Once each of us takes the law into his/her hands then it is as of that moment that none of us will ever be safe again.

But should we feign surprise when individuals merely copy and ape the behviour of the most powerful  institutions in the land? Is it fair to suggest that individuals learn from their institutions? Our most influential players, afterall, have made a practice out of taking the law into their own hands and of insisting that the law of the land applies only to the meek. The strong defy civil law by establishing militias that act on behalf of foreign power even though the same militias are partners of the government that they spare no effort in demonizing. When vigilantism becomes the guiding principle of our political structure then do we have the right to act surprised when a lowly mob attempts to take on the trappings of the big boys? You reap what you sow. Vigilantism will beget lawlessness and an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth will make us all blind and toothless.



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