Some 300 Mexican Indians have converted to Islam in Chiapas in the southern part of the country since 1995. Fifteen of them have already made the pilgrimage to Mecca last November, reports Inter Press Service (June 18).
Those conversions are the result of missionary efforts launched by Spanish members of the Murabitun (http://www.murabitun.org), a sometimes controversial group led by a Scottish Sufi, Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi, reports the Houston Chronicle (June 22). Some of the Mexican converts have left the Murabitun in the meantime and have established another Islamic center a few miles from the main Muslim compound in San Cristobal.
According to Inter Press Service’s reporter Diego Cevallos, the newly converted Muslims “said they chose Islam out of conviction, but also because they were fed up with the often bloody clashes between Roman Catholics and Christians of other persuasions, who also tend to be divided along political lines in Chiapas.” Most of the new Muslims appear to be former evangelical Christians.
The proportion of people in Chiapas affiliated with Roman Catholicism is significantly lower than the national average (62 percent vs. 90 percent). Recently, some of the Spanish Muslim missionaries have been asked to leave Mexico because they came with tourist visas, failed to apply for proper legal status for their group (called Mision para el Dawa en Mexico) and lack proper residency documents, reports the Associated Press (June 16).
— By Jean-François Mayer