A growing number of Australian Aborigines are converting to Islam, according to a report by the BBC (March 31).
The numbers are still small but the pattern of conversions among Aborigines appears similar to that of African Americans turning to Islam. Aborigine converts, numbering about 1,000, claim they have taken up the new religion for spiritual and social reasons. Converts say Islam provides them with the inner-strength to face poverty and other forms of oppression and discrimination. Indigenous communities first came into contact with Islam more than 150 years ago when Afghan camel trains helped open up the interior region of the country. “These two vastly different groups — an ancient native people and Middle Eastern traders — found they shared a similar sense of spirituality,” writes Phil Mercer.
Some Aborigines have been ostracized by their communities who view them as traitors. “Others speak of racism with their adopted Muslim brotherhood.”