An interest-free housing project aimed at the Muslim community and boasting 100 per cent halal housing has sparked a major row, with critics labelling it a discriminatory plan that could lead to a Muslim enclave.
Qartaba Homes‘ plan offers “100 per cent Halal housing to the growing Muslim community of Australia” in the heart of the northwestern Sydney suburb of Riverstone.
While the company has insisted people from all religious backgrounds are free to take up the offer, it advises that the loans are “100 per cent Halal” and a “chance to escape Riba (interest)” because interest is a sin under Islamic law.
Qartaba Homes director Khurram Jawaid said it was the real estate deal of a lifetime, open to Australians of all faiths and backgrounds, but the state MP for Hawkesbury Ray Williams said the project was divisive.
“I can only imagine the repercussions if a developer were to advertise a new Judeo-Christian housing estate; they would be hung, drawn and quartered,” Mr Williams said.
“I hardly think the advertisement for a 100 per cent halal Muslim housing community is inclusive; it’s very divisive and I’m sure it will be viewed that way by the majority of fair-minded Australians.”
Blacktown councillor Alan Pendleton said the community was concerned it could turn into an enclave. “There’s great concern about … what they consider could be an enclave. (There’s a belief) you have to be a Muslim, otherwise they won’t sell you a site,” Mr Pendleton said.
“Our philosophy is interest-free, pay as you own,” Mr Jawaid said. “You don’t have to go to a bank or a financial institution. It’s open to everyone. From the business point of view, we can’t do it that way (Muslims only).”
A spokesperson for Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts said the department had found no grounds for discrimination action against the Qartaba Homes flyer.
So, in short, there is no proposal to establish a Muslims-only housing estate in Riverstone. This doesn’t prevent the Telegraph from headlining its report “Plan for Muslim housing enclave in Sydney suburbs”.