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.