The crescent moon is rising over Deutschland.  After France, Germany has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe.  According to government statistics, approximately 3 to 3.5 million Muslims live in Germany.  Of these, only about 80 percent are citizens.  Most of the Muslim population trace their roots to Turkey and the guest-worker program of the 1960’s and 70’s.  While residing in Germany, the guest workers have established approximately 2,500 Muslim worship facilities and several hundred mosques, complete with domes and minarets.

Polls show that Germans are somewhat uncomfortable as Muslim numbers grow.  Research undertaken by the University of Bielefeld found that about 30 percent of citizens living in the former West Germany believe that Muslim immigration should be completely stopped.  A similar survey showed that large majorities of Germans associate Islam with oppression of women and terrorism.

With the growing Islamic populations, the presence of sharia is becoming a fact of German life.  The German Interior Ministry reports that larger numbers of German Muslims are demanding to live under strict Islamic rules rather than the laws crafted in the Bundestag or those of the regional state assembles.  Leftists rejoice at this evidence of globalization, multiculturalism, and the dawning of a new world for Europe.  Others see it as a precursor to the breakdown of good order.

An example of the problems caused by sharia is the investigation of a series of violent crimes in Berlin.  The city Polizei had long sought to make a case against Mustafa O.  This Palestinian immigrant was a suspect in several violent crimes, but police had never been able to gather sufficient evidence.  Their luck changed when Faut S. reported that Mustafa O. and three accomplices attacked him on a public street, dragged him into a basement, and tortured him.  The attack was motivated by a substantial debt owed to Mustafa O.  Faut S. was hospitalized because of the attack; doctors treated him for broken bones and open wounds.

Just as the case against Mustafa O. was about to go forward, Faut S. recanted his testimony and claimed that the attack was carried out by an unknown Albanian man.  With the victim refusing to cooperate, Mustafa O. escaped the German justice system yet again.

Der Spiegel reported in September that Faut S.’s abrupt change in heart resulted from an “adjudication” by a local Islamic “justice of the peace.”  The perpetrator’s and victim’s families met in a local restaurant and reached a compromise.  Faut S.’s debt would be reduced in exchange for false testimony that would assist Mustafa O. in beating the rap.

According to Joachim Wagner’s book Richter hone Gesetz (Judges Without Laws), such intervention in criminal cases is becoming commonplace in Germany’s growing Islamic communities.  Local imams and other Islamic officials are now adjudicating everything from family domestic disputes to criminal cases.  “The law is slipping out of our hands,” says Judge Kirsten Heisig.  “It’s moving to the streets, or into a parallel system where an imam or another representative of the Koran determines what must be done.”

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Wagner observed that involvement of a Muslim official usually means failure for German state prosecutors: “I’ve studied 16 recent crime cases here with Muslim citizens involved.  In almost 90% of all cases where Muslim arbitrators were commissioned, the perpetrators were acquitted by German courts or the cases were dropped altogether by the prosecution for lack of evidence.  It’s an alarming finding, and it throws a bad light on our courts.”

This shadow justice system has no place for German lawyers or other officials.  Wagner documents that a German sharia court is “very foreign, and for a German lawyer, completely incomprehensible at first.  It follows its own rules.  The Islamic arbitrators aren’t interested in evidence when they deliver a judgment, and unlike in German criminal law, the question of who is at fault doesn’t play much of a role.”

Of course, private arbitration of civil disputes such as contract claims or torts is perfectly reasonable.  Rather than request the state to resolve the issue, the parties choose a neutral arbiter and agree to abide by his decision.  In many legal systems, the parties are required to attempt to mediate their disputes before a civil action is allowed to proceed to trial.  Mediation has been so successful in some American states that civil trials are becoming a rarity.

Criminal law, however, is a different matter.  Governmental sovereignty includes a monopoly on the legitimate means of force within the territory of the government.  Historically in the Western world, consent was not a defense when a person participated in an activity that could cause harm, even if the “victim” did not object.  Hence, criminal cases are styled as State v. Defendant, inasmuch as the wrong is done not just to the victim, but to the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force.  The victim is but a witness to the offense.

Mustafa O.’s attack on Faut S. is a criminal matter because the assault threatens Berlin’s monopoly on the use of force.  The private agreement brokered by the Islamic justice of the peace amounts to an obstruction of justice and leaves Mustafa O. on the streets of Berlin to continue his criminal behavior.

A police working paper from the German city of Bremen cogently sums up the situation: Islamic populations “disdain the rule of law.  They haven’t integrated, and don’t intend to.  The family is above the law.”  Across Germany, immigrant communities prefer their own set of sharia-based laws.  Based on his study of this shadow justice system, Wagner concludes that “it doesn’t even come into their minds to follow the principles of the German legal system.”

Germany is fast losing her monopoly on the use of force within its territory.  With more than three million Muslims living in Germany, problems posed by sharia-based communities will only rise.  It is little wonder that last year German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared her country’s attempts to create a multicultural society had “utterly failed.”

It certainly is positive that Germans are beginning to have an honest conversation about Muslim immigration and the dangers caused by sharia communities.  Unfortunately, the left is mounting a campaign in which they contend that those who criticize Muslims and Islam are promoting hate, and thus are criminally liable for violating Article IV of the German Constitution, which provides that “freedom of faith and of conscience, and freedom to profess a religious or philosophical creed, shall be inviolable.”  Manfred Murck, director of the Hamburg branch of the German domestic-intelligence agency, rather than investing his time in restoring the rule of law undermined by Islamic justices of the peace, prefers to target “Islamophobes” as disturbing the fabric of the democratic constitutional state by promoting “infringements of human rights protected under our constitution.”  The plan is obviously to scare ordinary Germans so they will not frankly discuss the transformation of their country.

The fact that much of Germany’s Muslim population refuses to learn German and to assimilate into the culture has become a secondary problem.  The crucial issue is what will happen now that these sharia-based communities are stripping the government of its exclusive right to manage the criminal-justice system.  This is a symptom of the breakdown of order and should serve as a warning to other Western nations with growing Muslim populations.