This week, German politicians and half the world's media got a big aching boner over a group of bearded men who put on orange builders' vests and walked up and down a street in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia. They gave out flyers and stuck up stickers and asked kids not to go to the disco. Then the police told them to go home because they were violating assembly laws. That's what happened.
But because the men printed the word "Police" on their orange vests and posed for anyone holding a camera, and because every media organization in the world knows good panicky clickbait when it sees it, great big digital ropes of verbal spunk were arcing across the interweb by noon, and Sven Lau, the Salafist leader who came up with the idea, became every internet commentator's favourite wank fantasy. Which he seems to have enjoyed. It was basically a great big media-Salafist gang-bang.
Volker Kauder, the head of the CDU's parliamentary faction, couldn't bear to be left out of the sex-party (as usual), so he led the hysterical reaction, calling for the "Shariah Police" to be banned. Angela Merkel said we need to guard against these "beginnings" of parallel justice. One commentator lamented that the state's "hands were tied" – and the Salafists were taking advantage of the fact that wearing orange vests and giving out flyers is not against the law. Cunning jihadist bastards.
One thing the police particularly didn't arrest them for was pretending to be the police. That's because THEY WEREN'T PRETENDING TO BE THE POLICE. No one who saw them thought they were posing as policemen. They weren't arresting prostitutes and confiscating people's beer and bothering gamblers. That's because they knew they weren't the real police and would get arrested if they did that. What's more, everyone who saw them knew that too, and realized they didn't have to do what they said. That's because everyone on the street in Wuppertal that day was outside, in real life. Not in the panic-zone that the internet has become. In real life, people can tell the difference between bearded men in orange vests and the police. Similarly, in real life, no one thinks the Salvation Army (who also "patrol" the streets of Germany) is a real army. If they were pretending to be the real army – might as well clear this up while I'm here – that would also be against the law. Also, let's finally set the record straight: top 1980s pop combo The Police aren't the police either.
What the "Shariah Police" was doing was marching around, campaigning for more conservative, Muslim style laws. They're allowed to do that. I'm not on the Salafists side. I'm in favour of drinking and gambling and sex and watching porn and taking drugs. In fact, I did three of these things in the last 45 minutes. So I will NOT be joining them. I'd be a hypocrite if I did. They are dicks. But you are just as much dicks for falling for this panicky media-circus bollocks. Fuck's sake.