Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Gordon Brown on Islamic finance

Muslims. They're not just good for shooting in the chest at 4.00 am in the morning for no particular reason, you know. Sometimes you can make fat profits out of them, too. Here’s Gordon ‘son of the manse’ Brown at a conference on Islamic finance in London yesterday:

‘Gordon Brown addressed the gathering by declaring: "Asalaam aleikum" - peace be with you - in carefully enunciated Arabic, and then declared his intention to make the UK the "global centre for Islamic finance".

‘This endeavour, the chancellor pointed out, would not just benefit the UK economy but also help to narrow divisions between the west and the Muslim world.

‘"I believe that countries can become closer through trade and economic co-operation," he argued in a speech that covered topics ranging from global poverty to inflation, and was liberally peppered with quotes from the Koran, the Muslim holy book.’

Building London as a centre of Islamic finance will do plenty to bolster the profits of HSBC, Citigroup, Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered. It will do little to rebuild relations with the predominantly working class Islamic community in Forest Gate. So much for the chancellor's alleged affinities with Old Labour.

And if you really want to foster better relations with Islamic world, Gordo, closing Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, withdrawal from Iraq and democratic outcomes in Palestine, Chechnya and Kashmir are a better way to go about it.

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