German court acquits ‘sharia police’
A GERMAN court has ruled that a group of Islamists did not break the law in forming “sharia police” patrols and telling people to stop drinking, gambling and listening to music.
The ultra-conservative Muslim group around German Salafist convert Sven Lau sparked public outrage with their vigilante patrols in the western city of Wuppertal in 2014, but prosecutors have struggled to build a case against them.
The city’s district court ruled that the seven accused members of the group did not breach a ban on political uniforms when they approached people while wearing orange vests bearing the words “Sharia Police”.
Judges said there could only be a violation of the law – originally aimed against street movements such as the early Nazi party – if the uniforms were “suggestively militant or intimidating”, a court spokesperson said.
In this case, they found that the vests were not threatening and noted that one witness said he thought the men were part of a bachelor party.
The same court had already thrown out the case last year, but was overruled on appeal by a higher court which agreed with prosecutors that the ban on uniforms could be applied in this case.
So-called “sharia patrols” by sometimes violent radical young Salafists have also been seen in other European cities such as London, Copenhagen and Hamburg. –