The case dates back to September 2014 when a group of Salafist Muslims were caught patrolling the streets of Wuppertal in western Germany telling those walking by not to engage in activities forbidden by sharia (Islamic) law.
The group handed out notices to passersby announcing the area was a “Sharia Controlled Zone” which meant that alcohol, drugs, gambling, music and concerts, pornography and prostitution were prohibited.
Despite the fact that the group was dressed in in bright orange vests labelled “Sharia Patrol,” the regional court ruled the group had not violated Germany’s laws on wearing uniforms that are “suggestively militant or intimidating” – a law originally aimed at squelching any nascent Nazi-like street movements.
In turning over the lower court’s ruling, the federal court said that the regional court had been mistaken since the judges failed to consider the impact the men’s actions had on the public.
“These people’s intention is to provoke and intimidate and force their ideology [upon others],” said Peter Jung, the mayor of Wuppertal at the time of the acquittal.
Christian Democrat party whip Volker Kauder added, “Under absolutely no circumstances can we tolerate self-styled Sharia police officers patrolling our streets and dictating what people should or should not do.”
“Sharia law is not tolerated on German soil,” stated Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
In the UK, a similar case ended differently when three members of a similar patrol were sent to jail for trying to enforce Sharia law on the streets of London.
In that case, prosecutor Alex Chalk argued to the court, “This is a case about religious vigilantism. These men were members of a self-styled Muslim Patrol who threatened, intimidated and even assaulted members of the public who they perceived to be behaving in an un-Islamic manner.”
One of the members of the German patrol, Sven Lau, a well-known German convert to Islam, is currently on trial for supporting a foreign terrorist group.