Excerpt:

Turn your clock back 70 years. Imagine that Wall Street banks and brokerages sold Nuremberg-compliant bonds and stock funds in 1938. American Nazi sympathizers bought financial instruments certified by Berlin-based advisors as free of "Jewish profits" from, say, Salomon Brothers and Bloomingdale's.

In turn, a percentage of such funds' gains underwrote pro-Nazi charities, like the German-American Bund, and similar organizations in the Fatherland, like the Hitler Youth.

Seventy years hence, an analogous outrage grows on Wall Street, only this time for real.

Sharia-compliant finance (SCF) is expanding among banks and securities houses eager to absorb the hundreds of billions of petrodollars cascading into the Middle East, thanks to $100-per-barrel oil. To lure this cash, financial companies increasingly offer vehicles that neither pay interest nor benefit from gambling, entertainment, alcohol, pork or anything considered "haram" or "un-kosher" in Islam. Bahrain's International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) counts $97 billion in Islamic bonds in circulation with another $66 billion forecast through 2008 -- and SCF is not limited to the bond market.


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