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Saturday, July 20, 2013 

Britain's economists want it to be a hub for sharia finance

Marketplace.Org tells of some British government-backed bankers who'd like to turn the UK into a network for sharia economy:
This is a global phenomenon. Islamic finance is growing fast around the world. Sharia-compliant transactions are now worth an estimated $1.2 trillion a year, and that figure is expected to triple before the end of the decade. British business leaders are eager to cash in on this expanding revenue stream.

"We look at a growing market and think to ourselves: we would like to have more of that," says David Slater of London and Partners, a body set up to promote business in the British capital.

Slater and his colleagues, backed by the British government, are now pushing for London to become the global hub for Islamic finance and they’ll be pressing their case at the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum, a huge gathering of Muslim politicians, business leaders, and scholars. London will host the Forum in October, the first time the event will be held outside a Muslim country.

"We want to say, we’re open for business and we want your business and we’ll produce the right sort of products to enable that business,” says Slater.

Britain has already thrown open the door to Islamic finance. More Islamic bonds, or sukuk, have been issued on the London Stock Exchange than any other bourse -- more than $34 billion worth. The U.K. has the largest Islamic banking sector outside the Middle East and Asia -- 22 banks, 12 more than the United States. Britain has already changed its commercial and taxation laws to accommodate sharia-compliant finance, although not everyone is happy about it.

“I don’t think religion should be playing a part in our finance system in this way,” says Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society. Sanderson is worried that by expanding Islamic finance, Britain may be letting Sharia Law in by the backdoor and giving British and foreign Muslims too much political leverage.
Sanderson is right, but the government won't agree with him, as their wide-open door to the Muslim bankers has already proven.

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