Five British government buildings in London are now operating in accordance with some sharia rules — including a strict ban on alcohol — after the government agreed to abide by certain aspects of sharia law, according to British reports.
Sharia law is being observed at the Whitehall buildings, including Admiralty House, the former home of Sir Winston Churchill, because the current British government used the historic buildings as part of an Islamic bond scheme.
The MailOnline, Britain’s biggest news outlet, reacted with dismay, reporting that the five Whitehall buildings are “now governed by sharia law”.
Andrew Bridgen, the Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, said he was outraged to learn government buildings were operating under sharia law.
“I do find it unbelievable government buildings are governed by sharia law. I don’t see the bars as being an essential part of Parliament but it’s the principle that matters.
“Most of our constituents will be absolutely amazed that the principle could ever have been authorised.”
Unknown to most British citizens, the government buildings have been operating under some aspects sharia law since 2014, when the UK became the first Western country to issue special Islamic bonds known as sukuk.
Independent reports: At least £200m of the sukuk bonds have been sold to investors in the UK and the major Islamic finance centres in the Middle East and Asia.
Under sharia, charging interest – or usury – is forbidden. So to allow Islamic investors to receive a return on their money, the sukuk bonds pay them rental income on certain buildings instead.
As part of the deal, the Government agreed that the nominally rented buildings would abide by certain aspects of sharia rules, so Muslim investors did not feel they were making money out of something they regard as immoral, such as a pub.
However, a Treasury spokesperson said: “This is not news. As the Government set out clearly in 2014, three government buildings are being used to underpin the Government’s sukuk bond, Richmond House, 22-26 Whitehall and Wellington House. “The sukuk is issued under, and governed by, English law which applies at all times.”
In 2014, the Government cited a number of organisations, including the Executive Shariah Committee of HSBC Saudi Arabia, as saying the bonds were “sharia compliant” but suggested potential investors should seek opinions from their chosen experts.
It was unclear which other aspects of sharia are being adhered to by the managers of the buildings concerned, but a government source said it had been agreed that serving pork in Richmond House would not affect the sharia compliance of the sukuk. “Alcohol being served hasn’t arisen, as you would expect for a government building,” the insider added.
In January, The Times reported that a plan to relocate Members of Parliament to Richmond House to allow refurbishment work at Westminster was meeting resistance because Richmond House was dry under the terms of the sukuk agreement.