What do the Europeans think of Sharia patrols?

No trial for wearing "Sharia police" vests in Wuppertal

The Wuppertal district court has refused to open a trial against nine men for wearing vests marked "Sharia police". The court announced on Wednesday that there was no criminal violation of the ban on uniforms under the Assembly Act. The prosecution based their charges on this. The judges only admitted charges against one of the parties involved. This is said to have acted as the leader of an unregistered public meeting and thereby made himself a criminal offense. The regional court referred this procedure to the district court.

The men had caused considerable excitement across the country last year because they were walking through streets in the Elberfeld district of Wuppertal in customary safety vests with the imprint "Schariah Police" (Sharia police) on them and, according to the authorities, they had asked young people to comply with traditional Islamic religious laws. This includes, for example, a ban on alcohol.

According to reports from the police at the time, it was members of the Salafist scene who tried to "influence and recruit" young people with the action. Officials controlled the group, and law enforcement agencies initiated proceedings for violating the Assembly Act. This was sometimes criticized as excessive. Some observers doubted the existence of real criminal acts and assessed the "Sharia patrols" as a PR campaign by the activists around a well-known 35-year-old Salafist.

The district court now declared that the uniform prohibition, if interpreted in accordance with the constitution, was intended to prohibit items of clothing with recognizable references to "uniform clothing of historically known militant groups", which were meant as a "symbol of organized violence" and were intended to trigger "suggestive-militant effects" at gatherings . In contrast, standard orange safety vests do not have an intimidating or threatening effect, and the lettering on them did not arouse any associations with real police uniforms.

Only the charges against the 35-year-old alleged leader for organizing an undisclosed public meeting in the open air allowed the court to go to the main public hearing. The decision is not yet final.

Because of the comparatively limited allegations, the decision to open the proceedings was initially made by the Wuppertal District Court. However, it had referred the cases to the regional court because of their special importance and the great public interest. The judges there decided, however, to conduct the trial against the 35-year-old at the local court.