Reported by John Bean.
With much of British commerce and industry becoming a Chinese takeaway, parts of the City of London could soon bear more than a passing resemblance to an Arab Souk.
This could be the outcome of the World Islamic Economic Forum held in London, with David Cameron in attendance, on October 29th. Significantly, it was the first time the Forum was held in a non-Islamic country.
The British Prime Minister told the meeting that our Treasury is drawing up plans to issue a £200m Sukuk, a form of debt that complies with Islamic financial law. Backed by the Chancellor George Osborne (fresh from kow-towing to the Chinese for any further scraps they can throw our way), we are told that this new sharia-compliant gilt “ will enable Britain to tap the growing pool of Islamic investments that is forecast to top £1.3 trillion by next year.
This is how it works. To comply with Sharia law, Islamic investors are forbidden to receive interest. Sukuks avoid this problem by ensuring the fixed return investors receive on the debt is linked to the profit generated by an underlying asset. Moving out of the City and on to the streets of Britain, these Islamic government bonds will aid Muslims offering products such as mortgages. That will be helpful for them in snaffling up some more of our housing. If Cameron believes they will even think of voting Tory as a result, then he should think again.
Sharia-compliant funds have already been used to fund some of our capital’s largest developments, including the Shard building – Europe’s tallest – and the Olympic Village. British Democrats are not opposed to foreign financial investments in this country per se, but they must be closely confined to the specific business concerned. They should not be in such a volume that they spread to the very structure of our society and its cultural history. It becomes worse in the case of Sharia because in the long-term it could mean adopting other aspects of Sharia law. These include amputations for theft and death by stoning for women ( but not men) committing adultery, to give just two examples.
As the business editor of the Daily Telegraph said (29.10.13): “ Launching a UK Sukuk is not without its difficulties, not least creating a board to ensure the bond complies with strict Sharia laws that govern Islamic finance. Such boards, which include Muslim scholars and experts, are notoriously opaque and will be a new challenge for the Financial Conduct Authority.”