From Downeast, last week. I hadn’t seen any information on this before.
Mike has translated an open letter from Filip Dewinter to his former bank, Fortis. As he says in his title: “IF FILIP DEWINTER DID NOT EXIST, THEY’D HAVE TO INVENT HIM” – but fortunately, he does exist and is willing to take on the Goliaths.
Antwerpen, 21 januari 2008
To the Chairman of the Board of Directors
Sir Maurice Lippens
1000 Brussels, Belgium
Dear Sir Lippens,
From media reports I learned that Fortis, as the first Belgian bank, launches an investment product in compliance with the rules of sharia, the islamic law. More specifically, the “Fortis B Fix 2008 Islamic Index 1”, a bevek [ ] offered in 80 Fortis franchises. The investment fund comprises only sharia-approved shares. Indeed, it is coupled to the so-called ‘Dow Jones Islamic Market Index’ (DJIM) a Dow Jones Index excluding shares from companies whose principal activities are not allowed by sharia.
On the ‘Dow Jones Indices’ site I found which companies are exempt from this index. They are companies active in the fields of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, pork-related products, conventional financial services (banking and insurance), arms/defence and leisure (hotels, casinos, movies, music, …). Compliance with the sharia rules is controlled by the ‘Sharia Supervisory Board’, an advisory board of islamic theologists.
With this letter I wish – also in my capacity as a Fortis client – to protest against the fact that you – presumably out of commercial interests – offer these sharia investment products to your clients. By selling these products, you legitimize the ideology of muslim fundamentalism, the ideology that strives for a society based on sharia law. The teachings of sharia are, by the way, fundamentally incompatible with our western values of democracy and rights and freedom. Sharia stands amongst others for an inhumane judicial system with corporal punishments, prosecution of other religions, female inferiority and a total rejection of whatever kind of distraction. By promoting these sharia investment funds, you simultaneously promote the rise of muslim fundamentalism and you seriously hamper efforts by moderate muslims who are willing to integrate and are themselves no advocates of sharia. Indeed, you foster the notion that one can only be a good muslim when one obeys sharia rules. In the meantime, I took the trouble to check out which islamic theologians have a seat in the ‘Sharia Supervisory Board’ which determines whether a share fulfills the requirements of the ‘Dow Jones Islamic Index’ (and thus also your Fortis-sharia investment fund). They are: Sheikh Nizam Yacubu from Bahrein, Sheikh Mohd Daud Baker from Malaysia, Sheikh Justice Muhammed Taqi Usmani from Pakistan, Sheikh Mohamed A. Elgari from Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah from Syria and Sheikh Yusuf Talal DeLorrenzo from the United States. Apparently you let fatwas from fundamentalists determine which shares you offer, by means of your investment funds, to your clients.
The members of the ‘Sharia Supervisory Board’ are controversial. One of them is Sheikh Justice Muhammed Taqi Usmani, one of the most important islamic theologians and former sharia judge in Pakistan’s Supreme Court. During his tenure he opposed an amendment furthering the protection of women in Pakistan. This amendment aimed for the abolishment of several extremely woman-unfriendly measures which, a.o., obliged rape victims to come up with four male witnesses, lest, in the absence thereof, the woman not be accused of adultery, a crime to be punished by stoning.
Usmani is also a proponent of violent jihad. In an interview with the Times (08/09/2007) he stated last year that ‘muslims have to live in peace in countries such as Great Britain, until they acquire enough power to enter battle’. In his book ‘Islam and modernism’, Usmani pleads for an agressive military jihad as a means to achieve islamic world dominance. The Times writes that his book is a polemic against the islamic modernists who ‘want to transform the whole Koran in a poetic and metaphoric book’. According to Usmani these modernists are ‘bewitched by western culture’.
Another member of the ‘Sharia Supervisory Board’, Abu Ghuddah, is Chairman of the Sharia Board in the Saudi bank ‘Al Baraka Investment and Development Corporation’. A group of relatives of more than 1,000 victims of the attacks of 9/11 has filed a lawsuit against this bank because it reportedly is one of the main financiers of these terrorist attacks. Another member of the ‘Sharia Supervisory Board’, DeLorrenzo, is also a member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), which counts many fundamentalists within its ranks and which was the subject of an investigation regarding the financing of muslim terrorism.
Because your bank is selling these sharia investment funds [and] because this constitutes a surrender to muslim fundamentalism, I feel compelled to scrap my accounts at your bank.
That is an appalling list of miscreants Fortis has managed to get onto its Board. Mr. Dewinter did his homework.
In the comments, someone explains how the mechanisms of Shari’a finance really work. Great scam – an exhibit of genuine Bedouin
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Sharia finance is not analogous to Kosher restaurants in that everyone eats & s**ts pretty much the same way.
Sharia finance hides interest in a long term fee structure so that the borrower is tied to the deal despite any change in the general economy. As in, you can not refinance your mortgage so you continue to pay 12% when other borrowers are paying 10% because they refinanced.
The fee structure hides the actual APR. This undoes the legal protection won for consumers when having a standard and common cost of borrowing stated up front was made a mandatory part of credit and loan paperwork.
Sharia banking empowers the wealthy which hold the money and not the people – businessmen and the like – who actually use money to create wealth. The lack of wealth creation is the most evident in Islamic countries as building homes etc, is not seen as a normal part of a consumers life, but rather as a gift of the wealthy to the poor.
Read up on places like UAE and the construction of new homes is not financed by the people who will live in them, but by the ruling family, usually as a way to keep the lid blowing off of social unrest.
Sharia banking is also very closely tied to the bankrupting and the denying of credit to non-Muslims. In Sharia banking, all transactions must be approved by a religious committee, of which only Muslims can sit on. This promotes crony lending and reinforces family/tribal connections between the borrowers and the loaners. Sharia law demands that Muslim interests are served first and so to be compliant a bank must loan to Muslims regardless of ability to repay or to be a good businessman.
Also by sharia law, money must be made available for jihad. So pretty much anyone using Sharia banks is contributing zakat to Al-Queda or Hezbolla or Hamas.
And these are the people who complain about the Jews and money. Talk about projection…