The group was 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 also handed out notices to passersby announcing that 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 court announced that the group had not violated Germany’s laws on uniforms and public gathering.
German prosecutors have filed an appeal, as well they should, as the court seems to have missed the point. German politicians, in contrast, understood full well what the Sharia patrols were designed to do.
"These people's intention is to provoke and intimidate and force their ideology [upon others]," said Peter Jung, the mayor of Wuppertal.
Christian Democrat party whip Volker Kauder proclaimed, "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," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the German daily Bild.
In the UK, a similar case ended quite 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.”
Chalk added, “The men accosted members of the public in neighborhoods of East London which they claimed were Muslim areas, and where according to them different law applied.”
Although the German group, made up of Salafists (ultra-conservative Muslims), did not assault its victims as the group did in London, their intentions to intimidate and impose their religious beliefs on the wider public is objectionable enough.
The naivete of the German courts in allowing such activity on the country’s streets is further concerning considering the “real” purpose of the patrols, as stated by their leader, Sven Lau, a 34-year-old German convert to Islam.
Lau has admitted to designing the Sharia patrol to spark a debate on Salafism and thereby attract converts to Islam. It’s a great recruiting tool for him.
"We knew that this would raise attention," he said.
Lau, who is described as a fiery preacher, has been accused of recruiting jihadis for the Islamic State after being photographed in Syria in 2013 on top of a tank sporting a Kalashnikov rifle. After claiming to be in Syria on a humanitarian mission, the charges were dropped (with his passport taken away).
Lau is well aware that tens of thousands of Germans have converted to Islam in recent years. As an interviewer from Vocativ wrote, “Attention, of course, is what helps Lau get converts, which is one of his primary goals.”
As Lau told him, “The press? They help us. People love bad boys. Women love bad boys. In the last month I think 10 women wanted to marry me…from models to women who are totally covered.”
This is one “bad boy” that should be taken off the streets.
Update: Sven Lau was arrested Dec. 14 in Germany on suspicion of supporting a foreign terror group
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org