German police betrayed by justice system – union chief on ‘Sharia patrol’ ruling

FILE PHOTO © Hannibal Hanschke
The head of a major German police union has lashed out at the country's “failed” justice system, following a number of controversial court rulings. The most recent case involved a ‘Sharia police’ group operating in a suburban town, which was deemed legal.

“The full force of the law these days often means we determine the identities of offenders, but the judges just let them go free,” Rainer Wendt, head of the German Police Union (DPolG), told the Passauer Neue Presse (PNP) newspaper on Wednesday.

The official spoke about the recent incident involving the German court system, when a group of Islamists was cleared of charges for forming a ‘Sharia police force,’ a volunteer initiative to patrol the streets and uphold peace in the western German town of Wuppertal in 2014.

The town is one of Germany's most popular destinations for Salafists, who follow a very conservative interpretation of Islam and reject any form of democracy.

On Monday, the Wuppertal court ruled it did not see any breach of the law in the activities of the ‘Sharia police.’ Seven of the group’s members had worn bright-orange vests bearing the words ‘Sharia Police,’ and had patrolled the city streets, telling people to stop drinking, gambling or listening to music, so as not to contradict the strict Muslim religious code of conduct known as Sharia law. 

“[The court decision] is an unbelievable and devastating signal… [The police] feel completely failed by the justice system,” Wendt said.

Notably, the Wuppertal court ruling came less than a week after police conducted a massive operation targeting Islamists across 10 German federal states. The raids took place in 60 cities, including the capital Berlin.

Germany has been on high terrorism alert over the past several months after suffering a number of Islamist-related assaults during the summer.

Wendt also claimed that the justice system acted incorrectly in the case of a Kurdish man who allegedly tied his former lover to his car and dragged her after him through the streets on Sunday. The woman suffered life-threatening injuries and is currently in an induced coma in a hospital in Hanover. The man has not been convicted yet and Wendt says it is highly unlikely he will. The man had repeatedly been reported to the police for various crimes, but had never been imprisoned.

“There will always be a judge who will give him a positive social prognosis,” Wendt said.

Overall, the union chairman believes that the German judiciary system is far too weak in dealing with criminals, and called for a review in the training and appointment of judges.

He is also an advocate of so-called ‘racial profiling,’ according to which ethnic criteria must be taken into account when dealing with crime, especially in circumstances when the country is facing an influx of newcomers from various ethnic groups.
Both the Monday ruling and the case with the assault of the Kurdish woman come as Germany continues to struggle with the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. It has resulted in more than 1 million mainly Muslim asylum seekers entering the country since last year.