MAINZ, Germany - Small groups of hardline Salafist Muslims have been patrolling the streets of a German city hoping to "influence and recruit young people," police said. The groups were seen in the western city of Wuppertal wearing bright orange reflective vests with "Shariah Police" on the back. "This was seen as a violation against Germany’s public assembly law and charges were filed,” police spokesman Andre Schwanicke told NBC News. Officials say they have increased the police presence in the city.
Meanwhile, a YouTube propaganda video from the German Salafist scene was posted online showing a poster with the English headline “Shariah Controlled Zone”, followed by images of Salafists recruiting young people and visiting gambling halls. “The video is a new provocation and part of the Salafist propaganda, which shows that the scene does not acknowledge Germany’s rule of law,” Joerg Rademacher, spokesman for the state’s interior ministry said. Officials in Northrhein-Westphalia say that the Salafist scene in Germany’s most populated state consists of approximately 1,800 members alone, of which 10 percent are considered to be violent extremists.
"An appearance that intimidates, unsettles and provokes will not be tolerated. There is no legitimation for this “Shariah Police”,” Birgitta Radermacher, police chief of Wuppertal was quoted as saying in a statement.
- Andy Eckardt