September 30, 2008

Sunrise Equities Scandal and Multiculturalism

O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied;
but fear Allah; so that you may be successful.
3-130 Surah Al-Imran Verses

Multiculturalism played a major role in the sad case of one of Chicago's biggest financial scandals, currently ongoing and presenting a working mystery for the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.


The scandal in a nutshell: Sunrise Equities, headed by CEO Salman Ibrahim, was a sharia compliant investment firm that preyed primarily on Muslim investors. Ibrahim, who presented himself as a devout Muslim, was quickly embraced as an honest man, a man of holy righteousness, a man who you could trust. As the News-Star wrote recently, "The charismatic Ibrahim impressed prospective investors at Sunrise Equities with his deeply held religious beliefs. He regularly attended prayer services at the mosque located in the basement of his firm's office at 6355 N. Claremont, often serving as an imam or prayer leader. Local Muslim clerics vouched for him, and Ibrahim and his partners promptly returned investors' phone calls. But when the monthly disbursement checks started bouncing in August, and Sunrise's offices went dark, investors grew worried and began contacting the local Muslim media." (Source: News-Star, Sept. 24, 2008) How did multiculturalism contribute to this debacle? Consider: How many of your average investors consult their priests or rabbis before handing over upwards of $300,000 to an investment firm? Not many. But many of the unfortunate Muslim investors in Chicago who put their life savings in the hands of Sunrise Equities did, and they did not bother to go outside of their tight community to research Sunrise or to consult with non-Muslim investment experts. Do not confuse Diversity with Multiculturalism. I'm all for diversity. That is, people of various ethnicities and races and religions and whatever living together, next door, in harmony. However, that's quite different from multiculturalism, which is a situation that isolates those groups from each other into secluded or semi-secluded enclaves. That leads to communication breakdown, language barriers, suspicion, mistrust, fear. It divides us. Multiculturalism divides us with invisible walls, whereas a diverse community can unite us. Multiculturalism is, of necessity and by definition, a separation of people from those not like themselves. In August, CEO Ibrahim and four other Sunrise officers vanished, with an estimated $80-100 million in tow. Most investors, upon learning that the man who held their life savings had just skipped town, would have picked up the phone and called the FBI, the police, the Illinois Attorney General, or a newspaper. Virtually nobody among the Muslim investors did that. Rather, most of their complaining was limited to calling Dil Se (an Urdu language radio talk show on AM 1240 from 11 p.m. to Midnight on Sunday), or standing on a corner on Devon Avenue gossiping about it, or seeking information in one of the restaurants along that corridor. The insulation of Chicago's Muslim community contributed to the overly eager, ignorant willingness to dump money onto the lap of "one of their own." That same insulation now hinders official investigations of the scandal. This insulation is directly due to a lack of assimilation by a tight community into the bigger community around it. To live on an island is to isolate oneself. Muslim investors were not the only ones suckered by Ibrahim's act of piety and trustworthiness, however. Various non-Muslim banks around Chicago, and the nation, are experimenting with sharia-compliant operations. Universities, too, are being suckered in. That's no surprise, really: Universities are great advocates of the cultural isolationism that is inescapably part of being multicultural. DePaul University in Chicago for example, as written about in the Chicago Tribune earlier this year, as noted by Dhimmi Watch: Amir Davoodi had read about the meteoric rise of Islamic banking, but the senior finance major at DePaul University didn't realize how intrigued he would become with the idea of mixing Islam and market finance until he took a course on the subject last fall. Now Davoodi has accepted an internship with a local Islamic real estate company, Sunrise Equities, and might pursue the banking niche after graduation. More at Dhimmi Watch... Those involved at high levels with the Pure and Pure 2.0 construction projects were taken in, too, charmed by their desire to make a quick profit, but also by a desire to associate with something exotic: The bearded Ibrahim, the sharia-financial expert, the Man from Beyond. Fortunately, bloggers Bill Morton and Grammar Girl broke the story into the world beyond the Devon corridor. It is now an international story, as noted on the "Rogers Park in 1,000 Words" web site. Today there is an item at RP1000 titled "SALMAN IBRAHIM: YOU CANNOT HIDE!" that lists news organizations around the world that are carrying the story. RELATED: Why the dogma of multiculturalism has failed Britain Mail Online Tammy Bruce: Another Sign Multiculturalism Is Working Can Britain Survive Mulitculturalism? The Worldwide Failure of Pluralism New Socialist: Multiculturalism Policy and Practice: Divide and ...