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Is Minneapolis Now in the Sharia Loan Business?


"...the ACLU should be ready to blow a gasket at any moment, right?"

Alert the ACLU! The worst of the worst has happened! The unthinkable has taken place! The state is becoming involved with religion!

According to a recent article by conservative author Debbie Schlussel, the city of Minneapolis is now in the Sharia loan business to accommodate Muslims who want to take out loans but don't want to pay interest.

"So much for the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits government from establishing any religion or doing anything to favor any religion," Schlussel writes, presumably with her eyes rolled all the way back.

Here is the article she cites [emphasis added]:

In 2005, Afrik Grocery and Halal Meat on Cedar Avenue needed to expand. Owner Abdi Adem, who operates his business under Sharia law, needed to find a loan that funded the expansion and complied with his religious beliefs.

Finding the loan was easier than he expected.

Since December 2006, the city of Minneapolis, in partnership with the African Development Center, has given out 54 loans in a way that is compliant with Islamic law by using a fixed rate in place of a variable interest rate, which some considered sinful.

Instead of charging interest, the city and the ADC estimate how long it will take the business to pay off the loan and totals what the interest would be. That amount is added as a lump sum to the total cost of the loan.

“It feels like, looks like and acts like a loan, but it’s just a different way of looking at it,” said Hussein Samatar, executive director of the ADC.

Abdulwahid Qalinle, an adjunct associate professor of Islamic law at the University of Minnesota, said interest rates can be considered sinful under Sharia law.

“Islam has specific guidelines where people can acquire wealth and how to spend their wealth,” Qalinle said.

Through the Alternative Financing Program, small lenders — usually the ADC — will offer a loan and the city will match it up to $50,000. Business owners will then pay back the lender and the city. . . .

Through the loan, Adem borrowed $42,000 and was able to move his business down the street, expand his halal meat section and purchase new equipment, which he said helped attract new customers.

Adem paid off his loan in 2009.

“I benefited very much from the loan. The customers liked the new store and we liked it,” said Adem. . . .

“I don’t want to go to the bank and get charged for interest,” he said. “If I need more funds, I can use [the program] again, not now, but if I need it I can go and get it.”

Schlussel notes that the practice of acquiring interest-free loans was started by people of the Jewish faith

“But we Jews modernized and the sages and rabbis did away, centuries ago, with the prohibition against Jews taking out loans from others that involve paying interest,” Schlussel explains.

"For those of us who need to borrow money interest-free, there are private Jewish organizations who lend money interest-free. But Jews have never insisted that the U.S. government (or even American banks) engage in Jewish practices. We know this is a Christian country with a secular government, and we want it to stay that way," she writes.

But, in Schlussel’s opinion, what’s the biggest takeaway?

"As we all know, Muslims want America to become a Muslim country with the Koran as the Constitution, as HAMAS CAIR leaders have openly and repeatedly said," she writes, "With Minneapolis’ actions, looks like they are well on their way."

So, the ACLU should be ready to blow a gasket at any moment, right?


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