German court acquits ‘Sharia police’ members

WUPPERTAL, GERMANY (AFP) – A German court on Monday ruled that a group of Islamists did not break the law in forming “syariah police” street 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 “Syariah 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 spokesman 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.

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