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ISLAM

Oslo Muslims protest against anti-Islam film

Hundreds of Muslim demonstrators gathered in central Oslo on Friday afternoon for a peaceful protest against an anti-Islam film, while some 150 radical Islamists gathered outside the US embassy.

Oslo Muslims protest against anti-Islam film
Radical Islamists convene outside US Embassy in Oslo (Photo: Kyrre Lien/NTB Scanpix)

Oslo’s imams were joined in the main protest at Youngstorget by the city’s Conservative Mayor Fabian Stang, and Lutheran Bishop Ole Christian Kvarme.

“With this peaceful protest we want to maintain and strengthen our unity. As believers we understand each other,” said Bishop Kvarme in a speech.

“We’re using our freedom of expression today to show that we need to have respect,” he added.

The head of the Islamic Council Norway also spoke to the crowd in the city centre square.

“We’re here to express our outrage at the violations we’ve seen of the prophet. This has nothing to do with freedom of expression; it’s just plain bullying of Muslims,” he said.

A large number of police officers monitored the second rally at the US embassy, where one person was apprehended.

“This world needs another Osama,” news agency NTB quoted one of the demonstrators as saying outside the embassy.

In Pakistan, deadly clashes flared on Friday as tens of thousands took to the streets , throwing stones and setting buildings ablaze to denounce a US-made film that has fanned global Muslim anger.

There were clashes in the country's five largest cities where four people were killed and 80 others were wounded, defying government calls for peaceful protests on what was declared a national holiday in honour of the Prophet Muhammad.
  
Western missions shut across the Islamic world, fearing further escalation of a 10-day violent backlash over the low-budget film "Innocence of Muslims" that has spread to 20 countries and left more than 30 people dead.

France, where a magazine this week published a series of cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad, has shut embassies, consulates, cultural centres and schools in 20 Muslim countries, fearing the backlash will spread from US targets.

There were also demonstrations across Asia on Friday in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and Bangladesh, where about 10,000 took to the streets of Dhaka to condemn the US film and the French cartoons.

In the Arab world, authorities were also braced for demonstrations, with an Islamist militia in Libya's second city Benghazi calling for protests and Muslims protesting in Lebanon.

US interests bore the brunt of protests against the film, which depicts Muhammad as a thuggish sexual deviant.

After French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo printed cartoons caricaturing the founder of Islam, the government said it would deny requests to protest against the film and news of the cartoons appeared slow to filter to the Islamic world.

The magazine's editor, Stephane Charbonnier, mocked those angered by the cartoons as "ridiculous clowns" and accused the French government of pandering to them by criticizing the magazine for being provocative.

The United States is still investigating a deadly attack on its consulate in Benghazi on September 11th that left four Americans dead, including the ambassador.

The White House says the FBI suspects Al-Qaeda may have been linked to the attack, but it remains unclear whether it was a pre-planned assault or whether it sprang out of a protest against the film.

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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.