It's hard out there for a Republican preznidential candidate!
Sharia-compliant financing is a growing industry, particularly when it comes to mortgages. "Traditional secular, money lending banks are setting up Sharia-compliant products because they make money," says Abed Awad, an attorney who specializes in Islamic law. Companies like Citigroup and Visa have tried their hand at Sharia-compliant products. Usually companies structure the payments in a sort of house-buying layaway plan. "It's a major moneymaker for banks." Shariah compliant mortgages allow observant Muslims like Lakhani to buy homes, where previously they were stuck renting to avoid interest payments.
There's nothing sinister about the growth of Sharia-compliant finance. It is just capitalism at work, an emerging market in which firms are meeting demand for a particular kind of product. But a decision by one 2012 Republican hopeful, Tim Pawlenty, may come back to haunt him in the GOP presidential primary, where any association with Sharia-compliant finance could be toxic.
Pawlenty's effort to increase minority homeownership by encouraging companies to offer Sharia-compliant mortgages was entirely in keeping with his reputation as a "Sam's Club Republican" concerned with helping "regular people." But in the 2012 race, he'll be up against competitors who may try to use it against him.
"Who may." That Adam Serwer is a funny guy.
Of course, Ben Smith
won the morning obediently rushed to type up the new Pawlenty position.
But a Pawlenty spokesman told me that the governor has no intention of defending the program -- and that in fact, he shut it down himself as soon as he learned of it.