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ISLAM

Krekar back in court after ‘dream’ arrest

The arrest of Mullah Krekar could represent a dream scenario for the Kurdish Islamist convicted this week for issuing death threats, said terrorism researcher Magnus Ranstorp.

His stature would grow in extremist circles after he was apprehended on Tuesday in a raid on his home, Ranstorp said. But the Swedish terrorism expert added that the arrest did automatically equate to a heightened risk of terrorism in Norway.

“There have been similar situations in other countries, including Britain, without them leading to further violence. I'm sure the security police (PTS) are following this situation closely,” he told broadcaster NRK.  

Krekar will face a remand hearing on Wednesday morning at Oslo District Court. PST has asked for him to be held for eight weeks, while the mullah’s lawyers are calling for his immediate release.

Krekar was sentenced on Monday to five years in prison for issuing death threats against a former government minister and three Kurds living in Norway. He was released pending the outcome of an appeal.

Tuesday’s arrest came after it emerged that Krekar had issued further threats on an internet forum last weekend. If jailed, his followers would hold an unnamed Norwegian hostage in a cellar, Krekar said.

He also spoke of former government minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, claiming he knew where the Christian Democratic politician lived.

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ISLAM

Norwegian bank tests ‘Islamic loan’ concept

Norwegian bank Storebrand is offering new ‘halal loans’ based on Islamic principles.

Norwegian bank tests 'Islamic loan' concept
Storbrand's headquarters in Lysaker. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix
The bank recently created a website promoting ‘ethical loans’ for home financing without interest. 
 
The bank writes that it is testing the idea of interest-free loans in part to appeal to Muslim home buyers who may not want to accept a traditional loan because of their faith. Islam prohibits charging interest or fees on financial loans. 
 
“We wanted to find out if there could be another way to enter a housing market with rising prices. The product could appeal to young people, new graduates or people who can not accept normal housing loans because of religious concerns,” the bank writes on a website that was set up to gauge interest in the idea. 
 
Within a week, around 300 people contacted the bank to express interest in the loans. 
 
“Storebrand is now currently evaluating the market potential for such a loan and considering what the product might look like. We have also been approached by financial advisers in the UK and Malaysia who want to help us to put together this type of loan,” the bank’s communication manager, Bjorn Erik Sættem, told Vårt Land. 
 
Although the bank says it is still merely testing the idea, its website states that instead of paying interest on a home loan the home buyers would pay rent on the property until they’ve paid in enough to achieve ownership. 
 
Sættem said that the bank has received “a handful” of negative reactions to what has been dubbed the ‘halal loan’, including some customers who have cut their ties with the bank.