German government officials said they will try to stop a group of Muslim men who call themselves the “Shariah police.” The group reportedly patrols the German town of Wuppertal, asking people not to drink alcohol, visit nightclubs or watch pornography.
The men, according The Associated Press, don high-visibility orange vests, with the words “Shariah police” printed on the back, and walk through parts of the city urging passersby to refrain from activities forbidden under the strict interpretation of Muslim teachings known as Shariah law.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in a statement that civilians were not permitted to patrol streets instead of German police.
“Shariah law is not tolerated on German soil,” de Maiziere told the International Business Times. “Nobody can take it upon themselves to abuse the good name of the German police.”
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Local authorities have given the go-ahead for Wuppertal police to confiscate the orange vests and take action to stop the patrols.
The men are said to be followers of a puritanical sect of Islam known as Salafism and have reportedly declared the nightclub district of Wuppertal as a "Shariah controlled zone.”
Wuppertal Police Chief Birgitta Rademacher said Friday that her department had set up a hotline that concerned citizens could call and report criminal activity. She added that only state-employed individuals had the right to act as police in Germany.
“Intimidation or provocation won't be tolerated,” she said.
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Wuppertal Mayor Peter Jung said he was behind police efforts to stop the group’s patrols.
He told German newspaper, Deutsche Welle, that Wuppertal was an “open and tolerant city, which is proud of the fact that people of different religions and convictions live together in peace.”
But, he said, the actions of the fundamentalist group in his city could not be tolerated.
“These people's intention is to provoke and intimidate and force their ideology (upon others),” Jung said.
The group has also reportedly distributed leaflets to people on the streets.
Last week police stopped 11 men associated with the group. The individuals were between the ages of 19 and 33. Authorities are currently exploring whether charges of illegal assembly can be brought against them.
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