Downeast Blog Posts Filip Dewinter’s Letter to the Bank
From Downeast, last week. I hadn’t seen any information on this before.
Mike has translated an open letter from Filip Dewinter to his former bank, Fortis. As he says in his title: “IF FILIP DEWINTER DID NOT EXIST, THEY’D HAVE TO INVENT HIM” – but fortunately, he does exist and is willing to take on the Goliaths.
Antwerpen, 21 januari 2008
To the Chairman of the Board of Directors
Sir Maurice Lippens
1000 Brussels, Belgium
Dear Sir Lippens,
From media reports I learned that Fortis, as the first Belgian bank, launches an investment product in compliance with the rules of sharia, the islamic law. More specifically, the “Fortis B Fix 2008 Islamic Index 1”, a bevek [ ] offered in 80 Fortis franchises. The investment fund comprises only sharia-approved shares. Indeed, it is coupled to the so-called ‘Dow Jones Islamic Market Index’ (DJIM) a Dow Jones Index excluding shares from companies whose principal activities are not allowed by sharia.
On the ‘Dow Jones Indices’ site I found which companies are exempt from this index. They are companies active in the fields of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, pork-related products, conventional financial services (banking and insurance), arms/defence and leisure (hotels, casinos, movies, music, …). Compliance with the sharia rules is controlled by the ‘Sharia Supervisory Board’, an advisory board of islamic theologists.
With this letter I wish – also in my capacity as a Fortis client – to protest against the fact that you – presumably out of commercial interests – offer these sharia investment products to your clients. By selling these products, you legitimize the ideology of muslim fundamentalism, the ideology that strives for a society based on sharia law. The teachings of sharia are, by the way, fundamentally incompatible with our western values of democracy and rights and freedom. Sharia stands amongst others for an inhumane judicial system with corporal punishments, prosecution of other religions, female inferiority and a total rejection of whatever kind of distraction. By promoting these sharia investment funds, you simultaneously promote the rise of muslim fundamentalism and you seriously hamper efforts by moderate muslims who are willing to integrate and are themselves no advocates of sharia. Indeed, you foster the notion that one can only be a good muslim when one obeys sharia rules. In the meantime, I took the trouble to check out which islamic theologians have a seat in the ‘Sharia Supervisory Board’ which determines whether a share fulfills the requirements of the ‘Dow Jones Islamic Index’ (and thus also your Fortis-sharia investment fund). They are: Sheikh Nizam Yacubu from Bahrein, Sheikh Mohd Daud Baker from Malaysia, Sheikh Justice Muhammed Taqi Usmani from Pakistan, Sheikh Mohamed A. Elgari from Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah from Syria and Sheikh Yusuf Talal DeLorrenzo from the United States. Apparently you let fatwas from fundamentalists determine which shares you offer, by means of your investment funds, to your clients.
The members of the ‘Sharia Supervisory Board’ are controversial. One of them is Sheikh Justice Muhammed Taqi Usmani, one of the most important islamic theologians and former sharia judge in Pakistan’s Supreme Court. During his tenure he opposed an amendment furthering the protection of women in Pakistan. This amendment aimed for the abolishment of several extremely woman-unfriendly measures which, a.o., obliged rape victims to come up with four male witnesses, lest, in the absence thereof, the woman not be accused of adultery, a crime to be punished by stoning.
Usmani is also a proponent of violent jihad. In an interview with the Times (08/09/2007) he stated last year that ‘muslims have to live in peace in countries such as Great Britain, until they acquire enough power to enter battle’. In his book ‘Islam and modernism’, Usmani pleads for an agressive military jihad as a means to achieve islamic world dominance. The Times writes that his book is a polemic against the islamic modernists who ‘want to transform the whole Koran in a poetic and metaphoric book’. According to Usmani these modernists are ‘bewitched by western culture’.
Another member of the ‘Sharia Supervisory Board’, Abu Ghuddah, is Chairman of the Sharia Board in the Saudi bank ‘Al Baraka Investment and Development Corporation’. A group of relatives of more than 1,000 victims of the attacks of 9/11 has filed a lawsuit against this bank because it reportedly is one of the main financiers of these terrorist attacks. Another member of the ‘Sharia Supervisory Board’, DeLorrenzo, is also a member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), which counts many fundamentalists within its ranks and which was the subject of an investigation regarding the financing of muslim terrorism.
Because your bank is selling these sharia investment funds [and] because this constitutes a surrender to muslim fundamentalism, I feel compelled to scrap my accounts at your bank.