An Egyptian man has sliced off both his hands by placing them in the path of a speeding train to overcome his stealing addiction.
Ali Afifi, 28, was apparently so appalled by his habitual crimes that he took his punishment into his own hands.
The young man, apparently guided by the rules of Sharia law, severed both his hands in his self-inflicted purgatory.
His decision was likely to have been drawn from the Islamic teaching of Sharia law – the principles, rules and subsequent punishments that inform every element of life for those who practice Islam.
Mr Afifi said his stealing ‘disease’ started at a young age, first taking his friend’s lunches at primary school. It then escalated to items in shops and until recently he was taking people’s mobile phones and gold jewellery.
He said he used to give the money he made from the thefts to children and poor families.
But Mr Afifi was unable to cope with the guilt and decided to cut off his hands to put an end to his compulsive behaviour.
He said he wants to help his local town, improve the buildings and build a youth centre. He also wants to marry but doubts an Egyptian woman would take him because of his history of theft.
The Islamic legal system deals with many issues addressed in secular law as well as informing daily decisions of a personal and mundane matter, including hygiene, fasting, prayer, diet, politics, sexual intercourse and marital rules.
Interpretation of the law by Muslims varies between cultures, but it is accepted in some countries that repeated stealing is punishable by cutting off the hand
Normally, a person caught stealing would be summoned to a Sharia court where Islamic jurists would issue guidance on an issue.
But for Mr Afifi, from the central Nile delta region of Tanta, Egypt, he decided he knew what his fate should be, according to the ‘divine law’.
According to Sharia law, stealing is considered one of the most serious crimes as specified by the Quran.
A Sharia court may issue a punishment of some kind of injury to the hand to someone caught stealing for the first time, such as slowly driving a car wheel over the hand.
In countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and northern Nigeria, amputation for repeated stealing is still practiced. In Egypt, however, the courts have not permitted judicial amputation for many years.
Last year, however, under the new Muslim Brotherhood government, MP Adel Azzazy, from the Salafi-oriented Nour Party, proposed a bill to reintroduce amputations for certain crimes.
He called for the application of ‘Heraba’ – extreme punishments for crimes including overt robbery, murder, forcible taking of property with a weapon and vandalising public facilities.
The penalties according to Azzazy’s bill were execution in the case of murder, or cutting one arm and one leg from opposite sides of the culprit’s body in the cases of robbery and forcible taking of property.
If the taking of possessions is accompanied by murder, the penalty would be death or crucifixion, to be determined by the judge.
The bill, according to the Egypt Independent, also stipulated imprisonment for intimidating citizens, and that the prison sentence will end when the felon repents.
The penalties would only be imposed on adult, mentally-stable wrongdoers, who either committed the crimes or assisted in carrying them out, according to the bill.