WASHINGTON: Canadian Islamists who have been trying to bring in Sharia into Canada, so far without success, have now chosen another route - Islamic banking.
According to Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, “In 2003, we saw Islamists trying to sneak Sharia into Canada through the backdoor of Family Law and under the cover of Multiculturalism. Now, they seem to be taking a different route. They claim they are introducing the seemingly innocuous ‘Islamic banking’ by claiming such banking to be ‘interest-free’ and ‘Sharia-compliant’. This is one more ploy to prey on the fears and insecurities of Muslim Canadians. Invoking Islam to make a fortune is only one part of the agenda. The other is to try one more time to make ‘Sharia’ part of the Canadian lexicon. Only this time, it has the backing of corporate lawyers and senior bankers who see big money at the end of the line. The whole concept is a fraud that will further marginalise an already marginalised community.”
This position will probably lead to more death threats for Fatah and his organization, which has called for other anti-Sharia concepts like the separation of religion and state.
Because they don’t charge interest, financial services, like mortgages, offered by Islamic institutions tend to be higher priced than those from secular. Fatah said ideally, Islamic financial institutions should operate in places with a Muslim majority. “If it hasn’t picked up, this is because the Muslim community is not foolish,” he said. Islamic financial services in Canada are being pushed by banking executives from the Muslim community who feel that by creating a niche they will be able to tap into an area non- Muslims can’t access. “It’s a complete fraud because what you are doing is you are adding interest upfront and building it into your investments and dishonestly calling it interest-free,” he added.
A Muslim Canadian business executive who manages a shipping business in Pakistan, said, “In essence, ‘Islamic’ banking is manipulative, deceitful and fraudulent at several levels. Any finance student will tell you that interest-based banking as we know it today is a component of inflation, risk and the opportunity cost of money. It is centrally regulated and transparent. Furthermore, by having a more efficient Aggregate Demand-Aggregate Supply dynamic, one can minimise the inflation component but the other two components are the basis of a regulated banking system that is a key aspect of economic and technological growth. The Islamists have their own arguments which probably culminate in: ‘why do something with honesty and transparency when religion can be misused to obfuscate the issue and concentrate power in the hands of a few’!” A report by Brian Adeba in the Ottawa publication The Embassy, says rules on interest, real estate and overcoming apprehension from both within and without the Muslim community make it tricky for Sharia- inspired banks to be set up in Canada.