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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

British Muslims are being “de-banked” because of discrimination

From Nigel Farage to British Muslims, targeted account closures spark concerns of discrimination & financial injustice in the UK

In recent years, an alarming trend has emerged in the United Kingdom’s financial landscape, one that threatens not only the economic well-being of individuals and organizations but also raises questions about civil liberties and equality. The closure of bank accounts under the pretext of “de-risking” has been drawing increasing attention, as several cases shed light on the potentially discriminatory nature of these actions.

“De-Risking” Dilemma

The term “de-risking” sounds innocuous enough; banks frame it as a measure to protect themselves from financial or legal risks. However, the consequences of this practice extend beyond mere risk management, as individuals, businesses, and organizations are being subjected to abrupt account closures without comprehensive explanations. This trend is magnified by the frequency with which it’s happening – up to a thousand accounts per day, according to recent research.

Read More: MCB steps forward to address bank-related discrimination against British Muslims

Shocking Reality

While the narrative of de-risking suggests that these closures are random and aim to eliminate financial vulnerabilities, recent cases indicate a disturbing pattern of targeted actions. The closure of accounts belonging to the Cordoba Foundation, a British think tank, and Nigel Farage, a right-wing populist politician, have highlighted that the motivations behind such actions might extend beyond financial considerations.

Unjust Disproportionality

An alarming revelation emerges from the fog of targeted closures – the disproportionate impact on Muslim individuals and organizations. The closure of accounts held by the Cordoba Foundation in 2014 and the subsequent closing of other accounts belonging to British Muslims has raised concerns about possible institutional Islamophobia. These closures disrupt daily lives, hinder access to basic services, and cast doubt on the credibility of the affected parties, all while perpetuating negative stereotypes.

Flawed System

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of these account closures is the lack of transparency. Victims are often left in the dark about the reasons for these actions, forced to speculate on potential motives. The absence of a clear, standardized protocol for such closures allows banks to operate with little accountability. As seen in the case of Finsbury Park Mosque, the closure of accounts was justified with vague explanations such as falling outside of the bank’s “risk appetite,” leaving individuals and organizations struggling to defend their reputation.

Questioning Democracy and Free Expression

The ramifications of these closures extend beyond the financial sphere. The link between democracy and the freedom to dissent is undeniable. When financial institutions wield the power to exclude individuals from economic activity based on unsubstantiated labels like “extremist,” it undermines democracy by silencing voices of dissent. This is particularly alarming when it comes to activists, such as those advocating for human rights or marginalized communities.

Call for Accountability and Change

The recent turmoil surrounding account closures, particularly the case of Nigel Farage, has prompted a critical examination of major financial institutions. Calls for investigations and condemnations from political figures have underscored the urgent need for accountability. However, addressing this issue requires more than individual resignations. It necessitates a broader shift in attitudes towards financial discrimination, the establishment of clear guidelines for account closures, and the protection of civil liberties.

Read More: British Imams and scholars seek understanding in Afghanistan

As the UK grapples with the implications of de-risking and the targeted closure of accounts, it faces a complex challenge that intersects economics, politics, and civil liberties. The stories of individuals like Anas Altikriti and organizations like the Cordoba Foundation illustrate the urgency of addressing this issue.