Civil Rights Groups Protest Closures Of Muslims’ Bank Accounts

March 5, 2014

 

A Minneapolis-based bank has been closing the accounts of its customers in the Islamic community for years, but nobody can figure out why.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.– For years, Twin Cities’ residents who identify as members of the Islamic community say they have had their bank accounts closed unnecessarily and without reason by the Minneapolis-based TCF Financial Corp.

In one case, an American citizen — born and raised in Minneapolis — had his bank account closed, along with his sister’s account. The client used the account he opened in 2002 for his dental practice. He reportedly did not have any international transactions on his account, nor did he ever bounce a check or fail to keep a minimum balance. But he says that didn’t stop TCF from issuing a letter notifying him that the bank was “exercising its right under the terms of your account contract to discontinue our banking relationship.”

“A letter notified me that my account is closing, then after visiting and calling them I was notified by phone that TCF will not keep me as a customer even if I open a new account,” the former TCF customer told MintPress News. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota chapter, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, the closure of bank accounts belonging to Minnesota Muslims of Somali, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin, largely occurred between 2012 and 2013. CAIR-MN says it first got involved after it was reported in January 2013 that several Iranian students at the University of Minnesota had their accounts closed.

As the group’s Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla told MintPress, “None of these individuals have been charged with any crimes or engaged in any transaction that violates U.S. law. The only thing these individuals have in common, aside from TCF abruptly and without explanation closing their bank accounts, is that they have Muslim names. “All of the clients are American citizens,” she added. “Some are converts to Islam, others were born into a Muslim family; they are various ages and professions; different ethnicities and races.”
Mint Press: http://www.mintpressnews.com/cair-mn-welcomes-minneapolis-civil-rights-directors-probe-muslim-tcf-bank-account-closures/185615/
CAIR.com: http://cair.com/press-center/cair-in-the-news/12399-cair-mn-protests-closures-of-muslims-bank-accounts.html

Paris seeks to become Islamic finance hub in Europe

News Agencies – April 23, 2012

 

A report prepared by KFH-Research states that new global markets are seeking to join the main players in the Islamic financing industry and services, such as France. France is working relentlessly to make numerous legal and organizational reformations to facilitate the offering of Islamic financial services and products.

 

The report added that there is great potential for growth in the field of Islamic financial services in France, since France seeks to become a hub for Islamic banking in Europe. It noted that 1.5 million clients are willing to use Islamic banking tools and products, which equals USD 18.2 billion. In addition, French authorities have offered strong support to develop Islamic banking services, not to mention the high number of Muslims living there who seek Islamic banking services. However, the report mentioned that some legislations need to be amended.

Junta Islamica prepares a conference about Islamic banking practices

The Halal Institute, an organization created by the Islamic association Junta Islamica, is organizing an international conference on the Islamic banking system. The aim of this event, according to the organizers, is to promote the Islamic banking system as an alternative to the economic crisis and discuss the experiences of different countries.

The Halal Institute is an entity responsible for Halal Certificate, a privately held brand of halal food sold in Spain. The Halal Institute is an initiative of the Junta Islamica, a Muslim association established in 1989 and composed primarily of Spanish converts to Islam.

Islamic banking enters the Austrian market

After several years of success in the UK and first attempts in continental Europe, Islamic banking is now about to enter the Austrian market. Islamic financing is said to be highly profitable: growth rates of 30 percent are predicted. So far, the roughly 400, 000 Austrian Muslims have no opportunity to invest their money in a “halal” way, but now the Austrian Standards Organisation has started to develop common standards for Islamic banking on behalf of the Islamic Information and Documentation Centre (IIDZ).

The process should be completed by summer 2010, when the first Islamic financial products are supposed to be available at Austrian banks.

First Islamic bank to be established in Germany

Opportunities will increase for German Muslims to invest their money in a “halal” way. So far, Islamic banking is not available in Germany, although well established in the UK, where there is a smaller Muslim population. Now the banking supervision Bakin recently organized a conference on Islamic banking, and the first licence has been given out to an Islamic bank in Mannheim that will open in January.

Christian-Democrat local politician Reinhard Löffler praises the initiative. A believing Christian, he considers Islamic banking a potential third way between capitalism and socialism. The “ethical dilapidation” of the current banking system calls for innovative solutions.

Shari’a banking comes to Germany

Germany’s Muslims are finally getting a bank offering financial products that comply with Shari’a law. It is a market worth billions, and one that many major banks around the world have long discovered.

There are four million Muslims living in Germany. They eat, drink and pray in accordance with the precepts of the Prophet Muhammad. But when it comes to monetary transactions, the principles of the Koran have played hardly any role in Germany. That is about to change.

Early next year, the first Islamic bank in Germany to offer products that are in compliance with Shari’a law will open its doors. The bank, Kuveyt Türk Beteiligungsbank, will open a branch in the downtown area of Mannheim, a city in western Germany, and branches in other cities are also planned.

The regulators with Germany’s Federal Financial Services Authority, known as BaFin, recently issued a limited license to the subsidiary of a Turkish-Kuwaiti bank. It is only permitted to collect funds that are transferred to accounts in Turkey that conform to Islamic rules.

New resistance to Islamic finance in France

PCF (French Communist Party) member André Gerin has addressed a letter to François Fillon against changing laws to allow “Shari’a compatible” Islamic banking in France, claiming that accommodation is not appropriate and that this new banking calls into question “democratic and republican values.”

Le Monde reports that two laws which would have allowed for greater facility of Islamic banking have been censured in parliament. Two French banks, BNP Paribas and Calyon Crédit Agricole are already open in the Gulf States.

Debate sparked on Islamic finance in France

Islamic finance is sparking a heated debate in France. “We must not allow principles of Shari`ah law, or the ethics of the Qur`an to be introduced into French law,” said Socialist MP Henri Emmanuelli.

The parliament recently approved a number of adjustments to the banking laws to allow sukuk [Islamic bonds] to be issued for the first time. The Qatar Islamic Bank has applied for a license to operate in France as the first Islamic bank.

Emmanuelli’s Socialist Party has tried to block the law amendments but has failed. It is now challenging them before the Constitutional Council. The far-right National Front has also denounced Islamic finance as a “community-based peril” resulting from immigration.

In a report presented to the government last year, economist Elyes Jouini estimated France could tap into 120 billion euros in capital from Islamic finance if it made some adjustments to its tax and banking laws.

Islamic banking making its way to Spain

Islamic finance is coming to Spain, where an estimated two million possible clients await in its potential market. The Halal Institute, the center of Islamic quality certification in Cordoba operating under the Spanish Islamic Commission, plans to sign an agreement for the creation of an Islamic current account with the Sa Nostra building society. Since 2006, the Halal Institute has been in talks with numerous banks on the issue of introducing Islamic finance. Some market analysts have forecasted that Islamic banking will be one of the cornerstones of a credit system re-launched by a worldwide recession and mounting discontent over market management. Islamic banking partnered between the Halal Institute and Sa Nostra is planned to be launched shortly, beginning first in the Spanish archipelago; a specific date has not yet been announced.