By Talal al-Kandari
PARIS, Jan 16 (Saba) -- A strictly secular European heavyweight, France is seeking to adopt the Islamic financial system just as a prelude to becoming a European center for Islamic economy, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported Saturday.
Although no tangible moves have been made in this respect, the French government is determined to enact laws giving Islamic finance access to France. This has been already confirmed by several senior French officials.
Speaking to KUNA, several economists said France is now in pursuit of all political, media, legal, legislative and banking tracks that could lead to relevant practical moves.
This strategic project is part of France's plan to find alternative and complementary alternatives to conventional capitalist finance, which can shape the country's official financial policies in the event of global cash shortage.
At the beginning, France came across with a methodological problem that lies in how to handle the Islamic financial system, having been left with a couple of options; either through finding French legal and legislative items that are similar to Islamic ones or through the enactment of fresh laws in this respect.
Following serious deliberations with all parties concerned, the first option was handpicked.
According to recent studies, Islamic financial investments in France are estimated at roughly USD 120 billion.
Although a relevant draft law was turned down by the Constitutional Council in form, but not in content, French Minister of Economy, Industry and Employment Christine Lagrade made it certain that the government would not backpedal on its plan to adopt the Islamic financial system.
The French minister's advisor Thierry Dissaux told KUNA that the government would introduce amendments to French legal and tax systems in order to match Islamic financial principles.
Mohamed Nouri, chairman of the French council of Islamic finance, told KUNA that France was still in the stage of preparations for adopting the Islamic financial system.
But, he expected that Paris would take the first step in this respect this year by issuing Islamic sukuk (bonds) for leading Islamic investment banks.
For his part, secretary-general of the Arab-French commercial chamber, Saleh al-Tayar, also speaking to KUNA, said several French banks were currently operating in Arabian Gulf countries in line with Islamic Sharia'.
But the French drive to open up to Islamic finance is upsetting some politicians in the country Islamic Sharia' forbids Muslims from usury, receiving or paying interest on loans.