This story is a few months old, but I found it interesting since the Netherlands has been considering changing its mortgage laws to allow for non-interest Sharia-compatible loans. This leads, supposedly, to many immigrants not buying houses and therefore not feeling "at home".
The Delft municipality is helping finance a future mosque with attached Moroccan social-cultural center. The city council decided to extend a loan of 500,000 euro to the Al-Ansaar association - the owner of the complex.
The amount must be paid in 20 years with an interest of 2.75%. According to the mayor this is 1.5% lower than the interest which would be extended by the banking industry in similar situations.
The council emphasized that the help is specifically meant for the social-cultural center. This prevents any clash with the law, that stipulates namely that there should be separation of church and state. The municipality doesn't see any drawback with the fact that the prayer area and association building would be in the same premises. "These are two individual sections of the building," says a municipality spokesperson. "Both have their own entrance."
According to her the municipality is contributing its part since the social cultural center cares for "quality of life and the municipal renewal". For this reason the loan was granted through the Housing Stimulation Fund Dutch municipalities (SVN). This is a fund which was set up by Delft and other municipalities with millions of euros, and from which they themselves can take out loans with lower interest rates. The SVN administers the fund and conditions any support for projects that they should be related to the improvement of public housing, quality of life and municipal renewal:.
In 2005 Delft gave such a loan to the Sultan Ahmet Mosque. In that case the principle of separation of church and state was also respected since the money (400,000 euro) was meant for a new meeting area for social and cultural activities of the Turkish association.
Source: AD.nl (Dutch)
See also: Netherlands: considering halal mortgages , Hague: Halal mortgages