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CSM: Republicans Pushing Hispanics Into Islam

From those celebrants of submission at the Christian Science Monitor:

Melissa Matos, Hispanic Muslim Convert

At Prayer: Melissa Matos, of the Council on American Islamic Relations, is one of a growing number of Hispanic Muslims. The population has grown 30 percent since 1999.

More US Hispanics drawn to Islam

September 28, 2006 edition

By Amy Green | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

ORLANDO, FLA. – With her hijab and dark complexion, Catherine Garcia doesn’t look like an Orlando native or a Disney tourist. When people ask where she’s from, often they are surprised that it’s not the Middle East but Colombia.

That’s because Ms. Garcia, a bookstore clerk who immigrated to the US seven years ago, is Hispanic and Muslim. On this balmy afternoon at the start of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, she is at her mosque dressed in long sleeves and a long skirt in keeping with the Islamic belief in modesty. "When I was in my country I never fit in the society. Here in Islam I feel like I fit with everything they believe," she says.

Garcia is one of a growing number of Hispanics across the US who have found common ground in a faith and culture bearing surprising similarities to their own heritage. From professionals to students to homemakers, they are drawn to the Muslim faith through marriage, curiosity and a shared interest in issues such as immigration.

The population of Hispanic Muslims has increased 30 percent to some 200,000 since 1999, estimates Ali Khan, national director of the American Muslim Council in Chicago. Many attribute the trend to a growing interest in Islam since the 2001 terrorist attacks and also to a collision between two burgeoning minority groups. They note that Muslims ruled Spain centuries ago, leaving an imprint on Spanish food, music, and language.

"Many Hispanics … who are becoming Muslim, would say they are embracing their heritage, a heritage that was denied to them in a sense," says Ihsan Bagby, professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky…

The trend is a sign that Islam is becoming more Americanized and more indigenous to the country, Bagby says. As Republican positions on issues such as immigration push Muslim Hispanics and blacks in a less conservative direction, Islam could move in the same direction

"The more Hispanics and other Americans [who] become Muslim, the stronger and wider the bridge between the Muslim community and the general larger American community," Bagby says. "Their words and approach have some weight because they are a source of pride for Muslims throughout the world."

Garcia left Colombia to study international business in the US. Always religious, she considered becoming a nun when she was younger. But her Catholic faith raised questions for her. She wondered about eating pork when the Bible forbids it, and about praying to Mary and the saints and not directly to God.

In the US she befriended Muslims and eventually converted to Islam. Her family in Colombia was supportive. Today she says her prayers in English, Spanish, and Arabic, and she eats Halal food in keeping with Islamic beliefs.

"It’s the best thing that happened to me," says Garcia in soft, broken English. "I never expected to have so many blessings and be in peace like I am now."

What a heart-warming story. An illegal alien, here on an over extended student visa, converts to Islam to feel more like herself. And so she doesn’t have to eat pork.

And damn those evil conservative Republicans for pushing Hispanics like her towards Islam anyway.

By the way, this piece looks suspiciously like a one year old article from the Miami Herald. Which in itself smacked of being a CAIR press release.

Apparently it is very important to get this message out over and over again.

And the CSM is only too happy to oblige.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, September 29th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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