Mathias Rohe comments on “Sharia Police”-Verdict

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In an interview with the broadcasting station Deutsche Welle, Mathias Rohe, lawyer, Islamic scholar and director of EZIRE, welcomes the verdict of the German Federal Supreme Court on the Wuppertal “Sharia police”. The court ruled that public presence with reflective vests marked “Sharia police” can indeed be prosecutable.

The verdict referred to the approach of seven young men, who haddis patrolled through Wuppertal dressed as “Sharia police” and had disciplined allegedly unislamic behavior. The district court of Wuppertal had acquitted the men based on the argumentation that the reflective vests did not come under the uniform proscription. The Federal Supreme Court referred the case back to the district court.

Rohe is critical of the Wuppertal verdict, since it had fallen short. The lawyer favors the verdict of the Federal Supreme Court as a “positive signal”. One might admittedly argue that the reflective vest looked like a carnival disguise, Rohe said. However, in some parts of the population, the appearance of a “Sharia police”, could cause “major societal pressure”. If someone tried to pressure with the means of islamic extremism, this was to harm Muslims in the first place, Rohe argued. The original Wuppertal verdict had not considered this circumstance and had evaluated the issue on a blanket and general basis.

Rohe furthermore emphasizes the complexity of the term Sharia: generally, it referred to the entire norms doctrine of Islam. Both religious rules and draconic physical penalties were subsumed under the same term. Hence, the context was essential. In the existing case, “Sharia” clearly brought to mind doubtful religious police institutions as in Saudi Arabia or Iran. The aim was the public claim to power and the joy of harassing others. This was what had to be made a stand against.