Members of the “Muslim Patrol” have been sent to jail for trying to enforce sharia law upon passersby in East London streets. The hooded men harassed people, berating them with shouts of “this is a Muslim area!” They forced men to dump their alcoholic drinks, instructed women on the appropriate way to dress, and yelled insults at those they perceived to be gay. These incidents took place in early 2013 and were filmed and uploaded to YouTube by the group, but the videos have since been removed.
Three of the members of the patrol were sentenced to jail on December 6, 2013. Jordan Horner, a 19-year-old convert to Islam with a scraggly red beard who now goes by Jamaal Uddin, pleaded guilty to assault and use of threatening language and behavior. Horner was sentenced to 16 months in jail. Ricardo MacFarlane, aged 36, pleaded not guilty and received a 12-month sentence for violent behavior. A third man, 23 years old, pleaded guilty to violent behavior and received a 24-month sentence. This man cannot be named due to unknown legal reasons.
In December 2012, Horner and the unnamed 23-year-old drove a car in Bethnal Green, an East London district, and used a megaphone to yell at a couple, instructing them to let go of each other’s hands. “This is a Muslim area!” shouted Horner, blocking their paths with the car until they let go. In January 2013, Horner and MacFarlane assaulted a group of men for drinking alcohol and shouted “kill the non-believers!” That same month the two men harassed a young woman, calling her a “slag”–British slang for a promiscuous woman. The woman replied: “This is Great Britain. I can dress how I wish.”
Horner and MacFarlane have been found guilty in the past, for attacking a photographer and for defacing advertisements featuring women, respectively.
The Metropolitan Police has increased its presence in East London. The East London Mosque has condemned the “Muslim Patrols” and stated that it is committed to maintaining cooperation and harmony between communities in the area.
Judge Rebecca Poulet had this to say to the defendants:
“One of the many good things about living in Great Britain is the tolerance and respect members of the public generally show to one another’s religious beliefs, his dress or his chosen way of life. When on occasions a person shows their intolerance of another individual whether by aggression or violence and in such a way as to cause real fear to the individual then the law can be invoked to protect that individual. This law would protect you if someone treated you in this way. It is the very same law that now brings you before this court for your conduct.”
Sharia law is the moral code and religious law of Islam and covers all aspects of life, including economic, political, marital, sexual, criminal, etiquette, theological, hygiene, and even war. There are many schools of sharia law and there is no consensus between them. Seemingly unbeknownst to the London Muslim Patrol, Islamic law states that Muslims must respect the laws of other countries in which they reside.
The “Muslim Patrol” is reminiscent of the modesty patrols in Israel, in which vigilante gangs try to enforce a code of modesty among the Haredi, a conservative stream of Orthodox Judaism. The modesty patrols or “chastity squads” use violence and intimidation to guard the “purity” of the community by enforcing codes on dress and public behavior. In 2008, a 14-year-old girl was hospitalized after a modesty patrolman splashed acid on her face because she chose to wear pants in a suburb of Jerusalem.
Some Muslim-majority countries have some form of Islamic religious police, often called mutaween. In Saudi Arabia, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice consists of more than 3,500 officers and thousands more volunteers. They can arrest unrelated males and females if caught socializing, enforce strict dress codes, enforce dietary laws, crack down on homosexuality and prostitution, and enforce a ban on any Western media (such as music CDs) deemed offensive. The mutaween are known to whip and beat their victims.
On 11 March 2002, there was a fire in a school in Mecca, and the girls were forced to remain in the school and burn to death because they were not wearing headscarves or accompanied by a male guardian. Witnesses reported that the police were beating young girls who were trying to leave the school, and they refused to open the gates to let them out.
Islamic religious police forces also exist in the Gaza Strip, Iran, and Aceh, a region in Sumatra, Indonesia. If it were up to these members of the “Muslim Patrol” who have been sent to jail, sharia law would be enforced in the streets of East London as well.
By K. Elsner