‘Shariah Police’ vigilante force founder, Sven Lau (pictured above), faces criminal charges from state prosecutors in Germany. He is accused of breaking the law on freedom of assembly, with nine other Islamists, who intended to police morals on the streets of Wuppertal urging young people to abstain from drinking, gambling, playing music and other activities deemed ‘ungodly’ according to Islam.
Lau, 34, a German convert to Salafi Islam, a radically literal Sunni sect, is a leading fundamentalist preacher based in the west German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is an area The Local says is widely regarded as a hotspot of fundamentalist Islam.
He was previously accused of being an Islamic State recruiter after several visits to Syria where he says he drove ambulances delivering aid. Lau denies supporting IS and a lack of evidence meant he was not convicted.
Last September he and ten others faced charges of unlawful assembly and use of uniform in public in violation of German federal law. They had been conducting patrols of drinking and gambling venues wearing orange vests bearing the words ‘Shariah Police’.
On that occasion Wuppertal police pledged to crack down on anyone looking to take the law into their own hands. The local police chief, Birgitta Radermacher, said:
“The state has an exclusive monopoly on the use of force. Any conduct that intimidates, provokes or makes people insecure will not be tolerated. These ‘Sharia Police’ have no legitimacy.”
Liberal thought in Germany was not universally opposed to Lau’s partols. Writing for the newspaper Tagesspiegel, Malte Lehming pointed out Christian groups patrolled the centre of Hamburg’s red light district, the Reeperbahn.
He added that the freedom to preach religious beliefs is constitutionally protected, writing: “As long as ‘Sharia Police’ and singing evangelists don’t force anybody into something, they can do what they want. A knee-jerk reaction only plays into the hands of the Islamist provocateurs.”
In light of the official move, the group rebranded themselves as ‘Pro Halal’, dropping the provocative ‘Shariah Police’ uniforms but pledging to continue street patrols. It appears that this move may have led the firebrand Islamist and his followers to once again break the law.