Excerpt:

A new sharia law controversy erupted last night over Government plans to issue special "Islamic bonds" to pay for Gordon Brown's public-spending programme by raising money from the Middle East.

Britain is to become the first Western nation to issue bonds approved by Muslim clerics in line with sharia law, which bans conventional loans involving interest payments as "sinful".

The scheme would mark one of the most significant economic advances of sharia law in the non-Muslim world.

It will lead to the ownership of Government buildings and other assets currently belonging to British taxpayers being switched wholesale to wealthy Middle-Eastern businessmen and banks.

The Government sees sharia-compliant bonds as a way of tapping Middle-East money and building bridges with the Muslim community.

But critics say the scheme would waste money and could undermine Britain's financial and legal systems.


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