Vatican Paper Supports Islamic Finance.

8 04 2009
Published on The Brussels Journal (http://www.brusselsjournal.com)

France Wants Its Share of Sharia Banking

Created 2009-03-12 10:52

In yet another act of conciliation on the part of Western religions towards Islam, the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano has voiced its approval of Islamic finance. The Vatican paper wrote that banks should look at the rules of Islamic finance to restore confidence amongst their clients at a time of global economic crisis. “The ethical principles on which Islamic finance is based may bring banks closer to their clients and to the true spirit which should mark every financial service,” the Osservatore Romano said. “Western banks could use tools such as the Islamic bonds, known as sukuk, as collateral”. Sukuk may be used to fund the “‘car industry or the next Olympic Games in London,” the article says.

The Vatican article is only one of many articles that have recently appeared on the acceptance by Western governments and bankers of an Islamic financing system. More than accepting it, they seem to be welcoming it, though they are certainly being pressured into this by unnamed forces bowing to the dictates of Islam.
Last December, the French Senate looked at ways to eliminate legal hurdles, particularly levies, for Islamic financial services and products in France and the potential for listing companies on the Paris Stock Exchange. Senate sources said that this area of the financial market is worth from 500 to 600 billion dollars and could grow by an average 11 percent a year.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has announced France’s intention to make Paris “the capital of Islamic finance” and announced several Islamic banks would open branches in the French capital in 2009.

This hearkens back to a video from November 26, 2008 that was posted at many French websites showing Madame Lagarde announcing with (according to some bloggers) visible embarrassment the decision to allow Islamic financing in France. Whether or not this move is constitutional is apparently not even an issue, since European countries change their laws to accommodate Islam. If the “sacred” law separating Church and State can be violated, any law can. The video, with its very soft audio, shows the minister in a strange garb, and struggling to present a happy countenance. There is no way of knowing if this is merely the quality of the video, or an indication of her emotional state. An article from Le Parisien dated November 27, 2008 provides the following information, in addition to the facts presented above:

A revolution in the banking world. After London, where the first Islamic bank opened its doors in September 2004, France could authorize banks respecting sharia law to open in 2009 (…) Hervé de Charette, president of the Franco-Arab Chamber of Commerce emphasizes that “importing Islamic banking into France would help the integration process”. The main obstacle: “Islamic banking arouses fear because it is associated, wrongly, with religious fundamentalism, even with the financing of terrorism,” deplores Elyès Jouini, professor of economics at the University of Paris. (…)

The world economic crisis has changed the ball game. From New York to Hong Kong, all the financial centers on the planet are grabbing the billions of dollars amassed by the oil-rich monarchies of the Gulf. To tap into this manna (…) is the stated goal of Christine Lagarde. “We are determined to make of Paris a great center for Islamic finance,” declared the Finance Minister as she inaugurated the second French forum on Islamic banking.

For another longer English-language article, visit Islam On Line. This article goes back to July 2008, showing that even before the crisis, France had initiated a policy favoring Islamic banking.

See also:

Islamic Banking in Britain, 12 February 2007

First Sharia Bank in Switzerland, 8 October 2006

The Netherlands Want to Become Centre of Sharia Banking, 17 July 2007

Swiss Risk Losing Islamic Goldmine, 6 April 2008

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The 19th-century roots of terrorism

2 03 2009

By Chuck Leddy Globe Correspondent / February 26, 2009
Source: The Boston Globe

Terrorist bombings of nightclubs, restaurants, and hotels are, unfortunately, the stuff of today’s headline news. But the bombing of Paris’s Café Terminus in 1894 was a new, stunning phenomenon made possible by a violent philosophy and the development of dynamite. Yale historian John Merriman does many things in “The Dynamite Club,” his book about the bombing, and does them quite well, from explaining the intellectual and social underpinnings of anarchism to detailing the invention of dynamite to taking us inside the murky underworld of extremist Émile Henry, who built and then set off the 1894 bomb.

THE DYNAMITE CLUB: How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siècle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror By John Merriman

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 259 pp., illustrated, $26

“This book is motivated by a very simple question: Why did Émile Henry do what he did?” In seeking an answer, Merriman meticulously details the massive socioeconomic inequalities of 19th-century Paris, and the rest of Europe, which created alienation and resentment, especially among impoverished intellectuals such as Henry. Merriman shows us the dual worlds of Paris, the conspicuous consumption of the relatively few haves and the desperation, sickness, and want of the majority have-nots. Henry’s radical father had been forced to flee France after the 1871 Paris Commune, and young Henry adopted an extreme anarchist philosophy that advocated violence to destroy the social and political order.

Unlike socialists, anarchists like Henry rejected “electoral politics because they saw it as a means of propping up the bourgeois state,” writes Merriman. Acts of violence were needed to destroy the state, and as with today’s Islamic terrorist groups, anarchism developed a cult of martyrdom whereby those who died destroying the enemy were celebrated as heroes. Merriman effectively explains anarchism’s reverence for martyrs, showing how Henry was consumed by a need to avenge the death of other anarchists.

Henry performed his first act of terrorism in November 1892. He walked into the Paris headquarters of the Carmaux Mining Co. and placed a bomb, wrapped as a gift, at the front door. A suspicious employee contacted the police, who came and carefully carried the package to the nearest police station. “Two minutes later, the bomb exploded. Unimaginable horror followed,” writes Merriman, detailing the gruesome deaths of five victims inside the station. Henry fled to London, satisfied with his handiwork.

Henry lived on the lam in London and Paris, in a global anarchist underworld rife with secrecy, violence, and the fear of police informants. Merriman writes about international police efforts to uncover anarchist plots around the world, especially in London: “As part of this effort, police agents from France, Italy, Russia, and other countries were dispatched to Britain, where they infiltrated anarchist groups,” the author notes. Yet Henry remained on the loose, planning his next bombing.

On Feb. 12, 1894, Henry left a bomb in the crowded Café Terminus. Merriman describes the ensuing destruction: “The explosion left a sizable hole in the wooden floor and punctured the ceiling. Amid general panic, the screams and shouts of the wounded joined the smoke.” Incredibly, only one person died inside the cafe, while 20 were injured. Henry was captured fleeing the scene. Under police interrogation, he proudly admitted both bombings.

Tried for murder, Henry defiantly justified his actions as payback for police repression against anarchism. On May 21, 1894, he was guillotined in front of a Paris crowd. In describing the fate of a single terrorist, Merriman has skillfully illustrated how social alienation fueled the rise of extremist ideas and acts. The lethal impulses that motivated Henry aren’t so different, the author concludes, from the impulses that lead to terrorism today. This accessible account is historically eye-opening and psychologically insightful.

Chuck Leddy is a freelance writer who lives in Dorchester.