Germany’s Federal Court of Justice, the country’s highest court, on Thursday overturned a lower court’s decision in November 2016 to acquit a group of Muslim self-appointed guardians calling themselves the “Sharia Police,” because there had been no examination of their impact on the public.
The seven men patrolled the western German city of Wuppertal at night in September 2014, wearing orange vests that read “Sharia Police.” The local court ruled that the seven had not broken the law simply by simply speaking to people while wearing the branded vests. In the court’s opinion, the law, which was originally aimed at neo-Nazis, did not prohibit uniforms that were “suggestively militant or intimidating.”
But reports of those Muslim street patrols triggered outrage around Germany, even though the defendants claimed they only wanted to persuade young Muslims not to patronize gambling halls, bars and brothels.
Last July, a Dusseldorf court sentenced Sven Lau, a German Salafist convert who founded the “Sharia Police,” to five and a half years in prison for for supporting a foreign terrorist group.
In September 2014, Lau and other Salafist activists in Wuppertal addressed visitors in the entrance area of gambling halls and inns and, according to the Westdeutsche Zeitung, called on Muslim citizens to refrain from gambling and drinking alcohol. They wore signal vests marked “Shariah Police” and yellow signs with pictograms against alcohol, gambling, music, pornography, drugs and prostitution, under the inscription “Shariah-Controlled Zone. The Central Council of Muslims in Germany and the Association of Wuppertal Mosques condemned the action.