Shilling for Islamic micro-loans

May 1, 2010

The Spring 2010 issue of the World Policy Journal includes an article entitled “Both a Borrower and Lender Be: Can Islamic Microfinance Bring Peace to Palestine?”  The link to the full article doesn’t seem to work, but here is the editor’s summary:

Little by little, a new economic stability is being created in the rural communities of the West Bank. Could this be a path to a workable two-state solution? Investment banker and legal advisor Kenneth E. Barden reports on shariah-based micro-finance, which “blends micro-loans with respect for Islamic law.” Indeed, the prohibitions of Islam against usury have long been a barrier to the development of modern personal finance in the region, and fewer than 10 percent of West Bank residents have a checking account. Into this vacuum have stepped pioneering new, micro-finance organizations that are emphasizing a personal partnership between the lender and borrower in compliance with the cultural sensitivities of the parties involved. And, as Barden suggests, this new lending model could finally be the answer to meaningful economic growth and stability.

Got it?  According to Mr. Barden, a U.S. attorney who is now based in the West Bank, only Islamic finance can provide development and growth in the Middle East.  Friends, it is Islam that retards economic growth in the Middle East in the first place!  Why do Western bankers and lawyers keep playing into Muslim fear and paranoia about charging interest on loans?

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