Britain’s government is reportedly planning to introduce Shariah-complaint student loans for Muslim students, in a bid to help more attend university. The Huffington Post UK said that concerns were “bound to be raised” as to whether Muslim students will end up paying less than non-Muslims, as Shariah finance disallows the earning of, or charging of interest on money.
While the news first emerged around 10 days ago, the Liberal Democrat MP David Ward today endorsed the move in what is no doubt a cynical attempt to please his highly-Muslim electorate in the constituency of Bradford East. Ward is known for his anti-Semitic statements which many have commented are aimed at getting out the Muslim vote. His majority is an ultra-slim 365 votes (0.9 percent).
Britain’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which includes the higher education sector, said that “the principles of Sharia law recognise the value of money over time. Given the long period over which most students would make repayments into the fund, the total contribution they would be obligated to make would be based on a benchmark”.
A spokesperson for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies – a controversial group given its support for terror suspects and continued hosting of extremist preachers on UK campuses – lauded the move. Omar Ali claimed that many Muslims decide not to continue their education at university due to the because of the tuition fees system, but offered no evidence.
The news follows Britain’s latest push to introduce wider Shariah-complaint financial products across the country, in order to attract more business from the Middle East and North Africa.