Mayor Wants to Make Seattle More Sharia-Friendly
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Edward B. Murray, the mayor of one of the most politically progressive cities in America — Seattle — wants to make it easier for the 30,000 practicing Muslims in his city to get home mortgages without violating religious Sharia law. It is part of his plan to ease what he says is a “housing crisis.”
A new company in Seattle wants to help that happen, along with allowing Muslims to invest in retirement plans without violating Sharia law.
But conservatives have been warning for years that doing business with Islam is the same as doing business with terrorists, and a Seattle radio talk show host wonders why progressives favor Muslims over Christians.
Seattle’s economy is booming. That is good. What is bad, as Mayor Murray described in a letter to his constituents, is housing prices and rents have skyrocketed.
“As a result, thousands of families and workers — particularly lower-income people and among communities of color — are unable to afford the cost of living in Seattle,” he wrote.
Here’s his fix: Murray announced a multi-pronged approach to get 50,000 new units of housing built or preserved over the next 10 years, with 20,000 of those homes set up as “affordable housing.”
He and the Seattle City Council City Council commissioned a Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) advisory committee last fall. The 28-member HALA committee brought together perspectives from affordable housing advocates, developers, land-use experts, tenants, businesses and nonprofits.
After months of deliberation, they reached consensus on 65 recommendations to consider.
One of those recommendations, the most controversial paragraph in the proposal Murray sent to the newly established Seattle Select Committee on Housing Affordability — even more than the idea of making it easier for people with criminal records to buy a house in Seattle — is the idea entitled “Support the Community in Finding Housing Tools for Sharia-Compliant Lending.”
As Murray explained it, strict Muslims can’t use conventional mortgage products for religious reasons. Sharia law prohibits the payment of interest or fees for the loan of money because it is seen as wrong to make money from money.
“For our low- and moderate-income Muslim neighbors who follow Sharia law…there are limited options for financing a home,” wrote Murray.
His proposal would direct Seattle officials to bring together lenders, nonprofit housing organizations and community leaders to talk about how to bring more Sharia-compliant loan products to the city.
Buying a home is only one problem facing the Muslims of Seattle. Just as Sharia law prohibits Muslims from earning or paying interest on loans, it also forbids investing in retirement funds that include companies dealing in pornography, alcohol, tobacco or other products that are seen as taboo.
Who among us knows all of the companies in which our 401(k) accounts are invested?
That is the conundrum facing at least 1,000 Muslims who work for Microsoft in Seattle. They’d love to get into their company’s lucrative retirement savings and investment program, but can’t without running afoul of their religious beliefs.