This was revealed by Imam Rasheed Karim, chairman of the largest local group of independent Islamic organizations who criticized the move which he said infringes on the rights of the 180,000 strong Muslim Community.
Karim said, “As citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, Muslims cannot be forced to enlist into the local banking system as Islam forbids the involvement of usury (interest) in our financial transactions.”
Karim said that although the intent of The Miscellaneous Provisions (Proceeds of Crime and Central Bank Amendment) Bill was well-meaning, the framers failed to take into consideration the unique religious obligations of Muslims.
Karim said, “Because of this prohibition, thousands of Muslims opt to stay out of the system and thus secure their funds in different ways, all legal though. But this law now puts them in a disadvantageous situation and compels a significant segment of the population to compromise their religious beliefs,” said Imam Karim.
He warned that laws designed to safeguard the interest of the nation should be made in consultation with the national community and not drafted in secrecy and behind closed doors which he suggested has backfired once again in the face of the Government.