Eight men who patrolled the streets of a German city calling themselves “Shariah police” and aiming to spread Islamic law could now face trial, a German court ruled Tuesday.
However, German media reported that the potential charges against them would be related only to what was written on their bright orange vests rather than impersonating police officers.
DW reported that the Dusseldorf state court said the men could be tried on grounds of “violating laws against wearing uniforms with political messages.”
The volunteer patrol of Salafist men wearing orange vests emblazoned with the words “Shariah police” were seen in 2014 outside nightclubs and a train station in Wuppertal, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, where they asked people not to drink alcohol, listen to music or gamble.
The men were also seen carrying fliers which declared the area a “Shariah Controlled Zone,” DW reported.
At the time, German media identified the leader of the group as Sven Lau, who said the initiative aimed to “raise attention” for Islamic traditions.
Though the German government in 2014 said it had planned to crack down on the volunteer patrol, a Wuppertal court said in December that the group would not face charges, according to Agence France-Presse.
On Tuesday, a higher court overturned that ruling, saying that eight of the men could face charges because wearing vests with the words “Shariah police” violated the ban on uniforms at public rallies.
Wuppertal has the highest concentration of hardline Islamic Salafists in Germany. Salafist ideology opposes Western democracy as an effort to impose law written by humans over Allah-inspired Shariah law.