Daily Dispatches
A Muslim man stands outside the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Mass., as a woman walks by.
Associated Press/Photo by Robert F. Bukaty
A Muslim man stands outside the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Mass., as a woman walks by.

Islam increasingly draws Latina converts

Religion

The rate of Latinos converting to Islam in the United States has doubled since 2000, according to a report by the Cooperative Congregations Studies Partnership.

African-Americans still represent the largest group of converts—64 percent—but Latinos represent the greatest increase since 2000. Latinos are 17 percent of the American population, and American converts to Islam were only 6 percent Latino in 2000. But by 2010, that had grown to 12 percent. Among Latinos, female converts increased from 32 percent to 41 percent. And as the number of practicing Muslims in the United States increases, so do the number of mosques—from 1,209 to 2,106 during the first decade of the 21st century.

The reason for the trend is unclear. Women’s eNews, for example, interviewed a lesbian, a woman who finally can “connect with God,” and a woman who found in Islam “women’s rights” that supposedly trump “injustices” in the traditionally patriarchal Latino Catholic family. Such reasons seem unlikely to be widespread for a religion that traditionally shuns the idea of a personal relationship with God and subjugates women on a massive scale. But propaganda is widespread, and as WORLD revealed in its June 1 issue, the National Endowment for the Humanities is using taxpayer money to send books to local libraries that present a one-sided, positive view of Islam.

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Even slanted stories like the one in Women’s eNews can provide food for thought, though. While 9/11 brought disdain and discrimination toward Islam, it moved the religion to the forefront of American society, and people began to explore it. North America has seen more Muslim literature translated into Spanish than other countries. And Latina girls may be looking for an alternative to their highly sexualized culture. Just watch Telemundo for five minutes.

Andrew Branch
Andrew Branch

Andrew is a freelance writer living in Raleigh, N.C. He was homeschooled for 12 years and recently graduated from N.C. State University. He writes about sports and poverty for WORLD. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewABranch.

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