RECOMMENDED READING: “Egypt Islamic Finance Sector Faces Uphill Struggle”


Reuters is reporting that Egyptian government fears that the Muslim Brotherhood will take advantage of Islamic finance are holding the sector back in that country. According to the report:

DUBAI/CAIRO, June 30 (Reuters) – Egypt is likely to remain an Islamic finance laggard, hit by bad press from corruption scandals and a government keen to buttress its secular credentials and stymie Islamists ahead of elections next year. The birthplace of Islamic finance, Egypt is the sixth-biggest Muslim nation with 80 million people, but only 3 to 4 percent of its $193 billion banking industry is Islamic, said a 2009 report by consulting firm McKinsey. UAE Islamic assets, by comparison, account for 46 percent of the market, while even in Turkey, with its highly secular political and social structure, Islamic assets account for 42 percent of total banking assets. This disparity is politically induced, said Ashraf Mohamed Talaat, manager Islamic Banking unit-treasury at National Bank of Egypt. “We can catch up to other regional markets in the (Gulf) areas and Malaysia if there is political will in Egypt for Islamic finance. Experts need a green light from the political side,” he added. That political will — ahead of long-awaited presidential elections in 2011 to pick President Hosni Mubarak’s successor — and consumer demand, is lukewarm, however.

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Perhaps the most well-known Islamic scholar advising Islamic banks is Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi . Based in Qatar, Sheikh Qaradawi has reportedly amassed substantial wealth through his role as Shari’ah adviser to many important Islamic banks and funds.

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