Do Muslims Get Special Treatment in Economic Plan?

Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak is promoting the city’s growing economy and “pledged more than $11 million in workforce development and economic development strategies in 2008.”

What is included in the plans?

$4.7 million dollars of small business financing tools, including innovative loans with no interest to business owners whose religious beliefs restrict them from receiving traditional interest-based financing.

What’s that again…?

The mayor’s website says this:

The Alternative Financing Program offers profit-based financing to Minneapolis business owners where no interest is paid or collected. The rate of return is based on an up-front profit payment that is added to the front end and amortized over the life of the financing. While this type of financing may be especially attractive to Muslim business owners whose religious beliefs restrict them from receiving traditional interest-based financing, the program is open to all small Minneapolis businesses (neighborhood retail, service or light manufacturing) to purchase equipment and/or make building improvements.

I’ll just quote submitter Bjorn on this one:

If you’re Muslim, you get an interest free loan! There are plenty of banks which are Sharia’a compliant, and can get around the issue of charging or receiving interest, and still do it. So, why is Minneapolis making a special exception?



[tags]atheist, atheism, religion, separation of church and state[/tags]

  • Siamang

    Looks like you pay the “interest” in fees up-front. What’s the big deal? Not exactly the same as an “interest-free loan.”

  • Tao Jones

    While this type of financing may be especially attractive to Muslim business owners whose religious beliefs restrict them from receiving traditional interest-based financing, the program is open to all small Minneapolis businesses (neighborhood retail, service or light manufacturing) to purchase equipment and/or make building improvements.

    And the fire is where, exactly?

  • batyah harris

    If the program is open to all, then I don’t see why there should be any reasonable objection. Where I have problems with Muslims is when religious taxi drivers won’t pick up blind people because they have a seeing eye dog, or travelers because they bought some duty free bourbon. Where I have a problem is when universities are spending money they don’t have to install footbaths into all the bathrooms because Muslim students want to wash their feet before prayers. And so on and so forth. When someone else’s religious craziness causes me an expense or inconvenience, it’s time to put a stop to it. If your beliefs don’t bother me, then I might even think they are cute or quaint, and will just go on my way, leaving you in peace. I have no interest in hassling people just because I find their beliefs crazy.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Hm. In the 70s many Christians didn’t get loans for the same reason. Now they don’t seem to care.

  • Ben

    The loans seem to be interest-free in name only and are available to anyone who wants them. I don’t think this is a problem – at least from what is presented here.

  • http://blueshifted.org Andy

    The only thing to watch out for (and I know, this is likely a stretch):

    priority will be given to businesses unable to expand without the Alternative Financing

    The city needs to ensure that “but..but..I have a book that tells me not to pay interest!” is not taken seriously as proof of inability to expand.

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  • Ada

    the program is open to all small Minneapolis businesses … to purchase equipment and/or make building improvements.

    So what’s the big deal? I don’t see anything to be angry about.


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