Rabat- Police in the German city of Wuppertal are reportedly investigating a case of a group of men who call themselves the “Sharia police.”
The group has been observed patrolling the streets and urging Muslims living in the German city to refrain from things like drinking or gambling or any sort of entertainment that would contravene the Islamic teachings.
According to German media reports, the group which consists mostly of young men, was observed walking around the main train station and other areas in Wuppertal in North Rhine-Westphalia, in western Germany. The self-styled police were wearing orange traffic safety vests with the words “Sharia police” written in English on the back.
The young men, who are believed to be followers of Salafism, have been seen distributing leaflets urging people to refrain from alcohol, drugs, gambling, attending concerts, watching pornography or visiting prostitutes.
The group has also declared a nightlife area of the city of 340,000 to be a “Sharia Controlled Zone.”
“Intimidation or provocation won’t be tolerated,” Wuppertal Police Chief Birgitta Rademacher was quoted as saying by Deutshe Welle on Friday. She further said that only police appointed and employed by the state have the legitimate right to act as police in Germany.
The German Government has strongly condemned the nightly patrols by the self-imposed Sharia police.
“Sharia law is not tolerated on German soil,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told German daily newspaper Bild on Saturday. “Nobody can take it upon themselves to abuse the good name of the German police.”
Justice Minister Heiko Mass also told Bild that the state alone is responsible for the administration of justice in Germany. “Any Illegal parallel system of law enforcement would not be tolerated,” he added.
The Muslim community in Germany did not seem to approve of the Sharia police. “These few teen yobs do not speak in our name,” Ayman A. Mazyek chairman of the central council of Muslims in Germany told the Tagesspiegel am Sonntag newspaper and was cited by Deutshe Welle.
“These people are perverting the name of our religion. With this shrill and foolish action, they are really hurting Muslims,” he added.
Officials say that 1,800 people are part of the Salafist scene in the North Rhein-Westphalia area, with ten percent of the members considered to be violent extremists.
The German Salafi movement was responsible for the 2012 campaign to distribute 25 million free copies of translated Coran, the holy book of Muslims, into German homes.