The National Journal catches up to what Creeping Sharia told readers in 2010 and again in 2012. via The City That Offers Sharia-Compliant Loans to Muslim Business Owners – NationalJournal.com.
Inside the Karmel Square shopping mall in southwest Minneapolis, women wearing headscarves paint customers’ feet with henna. Others sell beaded caftans in narrow stalls. On the first floor, shopkeepers kneel toward Mecca to pray.
Somali entrepreneurs in the neighborhood have transformed an abandoned machinery warehouse into this bustling indoor bazaar. Karmel Square is one of several commercial districts they’ve revived in recent years with support from an unexpected ally: the city.
Since 2006, Minneapolis has loaned more than $1 million to Muslim business owners through a program that complies with sharia law, which prohibits Muslims from paying or earning interest in a financial transaction. The program, which is operated in partnership with the African Development Center, makes Minneapolis the only city in the country to offer Islamic financing at a time when states are trying to ban sharia from the courts. “Minneapolis is a very welcoming city,” says Kristin Guild, the city’s business development manager. “Because [Somali immigrants] wear headscarves, they are visible as entrepreneurs and people see that they are setting up businesses in our town and creating jobs.”
Minnesota is home to the country’s largest Somali community, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim. An estimated 32,000 people of Somali ancestry live in the state, and about one-third of them live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, according to the latest census figures.
Islamic financing is a relatively new concept in the United States. Only a handful of banks and financial companies provide mortgages and loans that abide by sharia law. The Neighborhood Development Center in St. Paul created the first nonprofit model of riba-free financing in 2001 after Somali entrepreneurs voiced their concerns. It was immediately lambasted on right-wing radio. “They utterly missed the point, but I was a little bit nervous,” says Mihailo Temali, the center’s CEO. “We were the first in the nation.”
More recently, media coverage of a Minnesota homeownership program that provided Islamic financing options prompted then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty to shut it down.
Minneapolis business development staffers point out that their program is open to anyone, even non-Muslims.
Odd then that Alexia Campell’s titled her puff piece, “City That Offers Sharia-Compliant Loans to Muslim Business Owners.”
Immigrants from Morocco, Ethiopia, and other North African countries have brought commerce back to long-neglected neighborhoods, like Lake Street in Lyndale. Once a commercial corridor in the early 1900s, shops on Lake Street began closing as consumers moved to the suburbs.
With the help of the city’s program, more than 20 businesses are open again on Lake Street. “I think this will spread,” says Temali. “One of the most outstanding features of the United States is its long history of incorporating immigrants into the economy instead of excluding them.”
Actually what made the United States outstanding was that immigrants assimilated into American culture, the so-called melting pot, rather than force their own individual cultures on everyone else.
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