A group of young men, who adhere to Salafism, an austere and puritanical sect of Islam have been seen patrolling the streets on a number of nights near the main train station. Salafism aims to return Islam to the supposedly pure form of Islam practiced by the early successors to Mohammed, the founder of Islam.
The young men patrol with orange traffic safety vest with the words "Sharia Police" emblazoned on the back. They have distributed leaflets demanding people cease from:
- Attending concerts
- Watching pornography
- Visiting prostitutes
Police stopped 11 men on Wednesday night and are now investigating them on suspicion of illegal assembly. The men were aged between 19 and 33. Police have also set up a hotline to report suspicious activity.
Wuppertal Police Chief Birgitta Rademacher announced on Friday that "intimidation or provocation won't be tolerated." Police will be stepping up patrols in the downtown areas in response.
Sharia police forces exist in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Islamic State terror organization has also established sharia patrols in the terriroties they control in Syria and Iraq. In Saudi Arabia, the "Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice" employs police to patrol the streets enforcing the modesty laws, prohibition of alcohol and punishing other offenses to sharia law. The Islamic State's patrol is called the Hisbah.
Sharia patrols have been seen in other countries in Europe. In Britain, patrols have been seen in some predominantly Muslim areas of London. In October 2013, an American student from Florida was brutally beaten by one of these patrols for drinking a beer in a 'Muslim area.'
In The Hague, Holland, the district of Schilderswijk has become known as the 'Sharia Triangle.' Fears over integration and strong Islamic State support in the area have prompted right-wing and anti-immigration organizations to stage anti-jihad demonstrations there. Also in The Hague, demonstrations are planned for September 20 by a variety of groups protesting against the Islamic State as well as by Muslim groups against "the increasing discrimination against Muslims."