Australia lawmaker: No to Shari'ah

2010-11-02 14:10

Sydney - An Australian lawmaker has urged fellow members of parliament to block legislation that would allow financial products that met the Islamic banking principle prohibiting the payment and collection of interest.

"Shari'ah finance is one aspect of Shari'ah law, or Islamic law, and I reject it entirely," the opposition Liberal Party's Cory Bernardi said on Tuesday.

"We shouldn't be changing our legal system or our legal framework to accommodate a system of laws that is wholly incompatible with Western values."

Bernardi was speaking ahead of official consultations this week on ways of taxing Shari'ah-compliant financial instruments.

"In other nations we've found that an accommodation of Shari'ah finance leads into an accommodation of another number of areas where Shari'ah is implemented, such as in property disputes (and) marital separations," Bernardi said.

Islamic Friendship Association head Keysar Trad earlier this year advocated Shari'ah courts for Muslims, and for Muslim men to be allowed more than one wife.

The 350 000 Muslims in Australia represent less than 2% of the population, but the proportion of Muslims is rising fast because of their higher birth rate.

Bernardi's call for a rejection of Islamic banking principles was parried by Finance Minister Penny Wong.

"We're an open and tolerant society," Wong said. "We've made our way and done well in the world by being open and competitive and tolerant."