This past week, Tony Perkins, president of conservative lobbyist group, the Family Research Council, made assertions that Minneapolis, among other cities in the United States, enforces Shariah as the law of the land. These comments were immediately criticized by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who stated that this is not the case and that Muslim immigrants only make Minneapolis a “vibrant and diverse place to live.”
There are absolutely no “zones” in the U.S. where Shariah trumps state and federal law, and both CNN and Fox news have apologized for propagating any such ideas. However, taking into consideration, for example, that the Twin Cities have the largest population of Somalis in North America, certain unique financial accommodations have been made to suit the needs of Muslims.
Muslims, according to Shariah, are prohibited from having loans with interest rates. The city of Minneapolis has partnered with nonprofit organizations to offer Shariah-compliant loans. The loans are available to anyone of any religion. The actual differences from
traditional loans are mostly superficial. In essence, there is no “interest rate,” but to make up for it, the borrower buys the item at an inflated price and makes equal payments.
The accommodations made by Minneapolis help enrich the lives of many people, and do not infringe on the separation of church and state. Though the idea of enforcing Shariah law on non-Muslims is contemptible to me — and it should never influence United States governance — superficial changes to low-income lending programs are hardly capitulation, and they provide many benefits to the culture and society of the Twin Cities.