French City Bans ‘Islamic Banking’ Advert to Avert ‘Disturbing Public Order’
Mayor of the French city of Nice Christian Estrosi has forbidden a bank to place a sign advertising “Islamic banking” saying it may disturb public order.
Mayor Estrosi and the Nice municipal government say that hanging a sign promoting Islamic banking could lead to a backlash from residents as the memory of last year’s brutal terror attack still remains. The bank in question, Noorassur, claims to offer 100 percent “Halal” or sharia law compliant banking L’Expressreports.
Monique Bailet, deputy director general in charge of safety and neighbourhood life said Noorassur can still operate according to their own banking standards, but the sign in question was too provocative. The sign, she said could lead to, “antagonistic rallies” that, “would endanger the staff and customers of the establishment.”
Lawyer Patrice Spinosi has appealed the decision on behalf of Noorassur and filed a complaint at the Nice administrative court which will be examined in the following weeks. The appeal is similar to complaints made by human rights organisations when many towns in the south of France, including Nice, banned the Islamic swimwear known as the “burkini” last year.
Spinosi also said that the underlying assumption by the city of Nice was that Islamic banking was linked to Islamic terrorism.
The founder of Noorassur, Sonia Mariji said that Islamic banking did not involve proselytising, and said that she saw no conflict between Islamic banking and the values of the French republic.
Islamic banking differs from ordinary banking in several ways. Investments in products such as alcohol, which are forbidden in Islam, are banned and so is lending money at an interest rate.
In the UK the demand for sharia-compliant banking has soared in recent years. Manchester-based Al Rayan Bank says they have seen a 449 percent increase in Islamic savings since 2012.
Commercial Officer Ken Leach said the bank was, “very pleased that our products, and Islamic banking in general, is clearly becoming an established part of British retail banking,” adding, “There is still substantial room for growth in this market and we expect demand to continue to rise in the coming years.”
Last year Austria also joined other European countries who have embraced Islamic finance with Austrian bank BAWAG PSK offering Sharia-compliant accounts and services. Muslims make up around seven percent of the population of Austria and recent migration trends from predominantly Muslim countries are likely to further increase the number in coming years.