By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.
In September of 2014 we featured an article describing how a squad of uniformed, self appointed “Sharia Police”. Several young adults wearing orange reflective jackets embossed with the words “Shariah Police” began foot patrols of the central district of the German city Wuppertal, harassing who they perceived to be Muslim who were frequenting discos and gambling establishments.
The group held that they were promoting their Salafist beliefs and chastising others who deviated from the tenets of the religion–by consuming alcohol and engaging in gambling entertainment.
The state sought to bring criminal charges against a group of Sharia Police for violating statutes relating to the patrols. Now, the Düsseldorf State Court ruled that eight of the nine accused men can face trial for “violating laws against wearing uniforms with political messages.”
The founder of the Shariah Police, thirty three year old Sven Lau claims the Shariah Police never existed and that the group was only a few men spending a few hours bringing attention to the issue of Sharia law in Germany.
Deutsche Welle reported in 2014 Lau is a leading member of Germany’s Salafist movement, advocates of a strict Sunni interpretation of political Islam. He works with a mosque in his native Mönchengladbach, not far west of Wuppertal, and used to head the fundamentalist group “Invitation to Paradise.” (Einladung zum Paradies, in German.)
Sven Lau has reportedly been under watch by German security agencies and law enforcement for some time. He was targeted by a prosecutor for seditious acts according to The Focus Online. Lau proffered in a television interview that he and his followers stay within the bounds of the law but that anything else is on the table. Government officials have alleged in February that Lau might be supporting, at least in advocacy, Syrian militia fighters that could be linked to ISIS.
In December of 2015, Mr Lau was indicted by the German State for allegedly providing material support to terrorist organizations (Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar) in Syria.
Authorities were notified originally when people complained of the Shariah Police passing out literature demanding others observe a code of conduct as well as demands that Muslims abstain from alcohol, music, dancing, pornography, prostitution, and drugs. But the matter went from there when the Shariah Police were contacted by the actual police who detained eleven of the group.
Wuppertal Police then issued a statement promising to crack down on vigilantism or any other group proffering itself as a police agency.
“The state has an exclusive monopoly on the use of [police] force,” reminded local police Chief Birgitta Radermacher. “Any conduct that intimidates, provokes or makes people insecure will not be tolerated. These ‘Sharia Police’ have no legitimacy,” she added.
The prosecution of these men holds that political groups are prohibited from wearing uniforms in public, certainly this is due to the denazification measures in post WWII Germany. During the Nazi era (and in the decade prior), groups such as the Sturmabteilung or Brown Shirts as they were commonly referred to, were organized as a para-military organization of the Nazi Party, an infamous and brutal machine of repression and criminality.
Currently the German State finds a worrisome analogue in the Sharia Police. While it is clearly not at the level of the Brown Shirts, the notion of a uniformed organization enforcing arbitrary values on others and seeking to gain compliance with their form of religion or politics is something the state certainly will want to stop at the shortest possible time, lest a repeat of forming a much larger problem later.
There are of course free speech concerns that the state is prohibiting an act which the defendants might argue is merely an expression of their values and is nothing more. Yet, even within the United States some states prohibit vehicles or uniforms displaying the words “Police” or “Law Enforcement Officer” in that it conveys on official state agent or function.
One example of this is Chapter 18.170 of the Revised Code of Washington which prohibits security guards from wearing uniforms or insignia that indicate a police of law enforcement officer.
(6) It is a gross misdemeanor for a person to possess or use any vehicle or equipment displaying the word “police” or “law enforcement officer” or having any sign, shield, marking, accessory, or insignia that indicates that the equipment or vehicle belongs to a public law enforcement agency.
(7) It is a gross misdemeanor for any person who performs the functions and duties of a private security guard to use any name that includes the word “police” or “law enforcement” or that portrays the individual or a business as a public law enforcement agency.
By Darren Smith
Source: Deutsche Welle
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