Zero interest payment loans at Ground Zero mosque?

Last week Reuters informed us that:

'The Muslim center planned near the site of the World Trade Center attack could qualify for tax-free financing, a spokesman for City Comptroller John Liu said on Friday, and Liu is willing to consider approving the public subsidy."

The Democratic comptroller's spokesman, Scott Sieber, said Liu supported the project. The center has sparked an intense debate over U.S. religious freedoms and the sanctity of the Trade Center site, where nearly 3,000 perished in the September 11, 2001 attack.

"If it turns out to be financially feasible and if they can demonstrate an ability to pay off the bonds and comply with the laws concerning tax-exempt financing, we'd certainly consider it," Sieber told Reuters.'

This is a proposed $70 million, tax exempt loan to a house of worship that also would pay no taxes to the City of New York, to finance a structure opposed by a majority of New Yorkers. The city's officials find no problem with this, apparently.

This proposal appears to a normal bond situation with bonds paying interest from monies paid by the borrower. However, Muslim teachings forbid the paying of interest. This applies to government as well as private company loans. 

Robert Spencer's book "Stealth Jihad," on pages 185-186, tells of Chicago Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid giving examples of Muslims enforcing Sharia compliance against interest payments, starting with a Muslim who refused to pay Internal Revenue Service penalty interest -- and won his case. The Muslim's secretary (a non-Muslim) pointed out the section of the Qu'ran that forbid this and the IRS supervisor allowed this waiving of interest on religious grounds.

Imam Mujahid also gives the example of "a Muslim physician who was 'charged interest on a construction job because he inadvertently delayed payment of the bill for one month. He wrote to apologize for the delay and informed the authorities that Islam did not allow him to pay or receive interest on any transaction. Not only were interest charges removed, but an opportunity for Dawa came up' - that is, Islamic proselytizing."

So Sharia rules have even made the IRS back down, setting legal precedents. It would appear that the only way that a mosque could have the interest paid on its construction bonds would be if the taxpayers of New York City paid the interest to the bondholders -- on a religious property that pays no real estate taxes. This would be, in effect, a government subsidy to a religion.

The owner of the proposed Ground Zero mosque, Sharif el-Gamal, is already personally over $224,270.77 in arrears on his property tax payments to New York City.

One might speculate: what happens if the former waiter el-Gamal were to not make his principal payments on such a bond loan? Would the City of New York seize his property? They haven't seized it as of now for a tax bill of nearly a quarter of a million dollars. What makes you think they would enforce tax law payment requirements at a later time? After all, there appears to be a real sense of entitlement here. And the imam of this proposed mosque, Imam Rauf, is also a landlord in New Jersey who allegedly doesn't make repairs to his tenants apartments, according to the NY Post.

For all the talk about tolerance in this mosque project, it seems that the proposed mosque building owner and the Imam don't have much tolerance for meeting their financial obligations. Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg can personally co-sign a contract guaranteeing the $70 million dollar loan/bonds if he really believes this is a financially sound deal with people you can trust. Or at the very least, Mayor Bloomberg and Comptroller Liu  could explain to the citizens of New York: who exactly would be paying the interest on these bonds when the actual recipient considers it against their faith to pay any interest?

Mayor Bloomberg should explain all this, once again, on Comedy Central -- a most fitting setting.