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Many Hispanics finding faith in Islam
NorthJersey.com ^ | 02.26.06 | ELIZABETH LLORENTE

Posted on 02/27/2006 12:28:11 PM PST by Coleus

Last year, Gaby Gonzalez wore black nail polish and black eye shadow. She had a messy room, standoffs with mom and occasional drinks.  Today, the Honduran-born 20-year-old is known as Sister Gaby.   She proudly wears her jade-green hijab, which forms a nearly perfect frame around her delicate features and large brown eyes. She prays several times a day and does not wear makeup, eat pork or even utter the phrase "happy hour" – that is all haram, she said, or prohibited in Arabic.

"In my past, I focused on myself. I didn't think about other people, about my parents, just myself and my circle of friends," she said. "Now, every day I strive to be better, to do good, to help others. I stopped being selfish and arrogant."  Gonzalez, who majors in anthropology at Montclair State University, is one of thousands of Latinos who have converted to Islam. So many Latinos have thronged to Islam in recent years that many mosques, including some in North Jersey, have set up special "Latino Muslim" groups within their congregations. And many now offer simultaneous Spanish translations as part of their religious services.  After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, mosque leaders saw the fear and anger mushrooming against Muslims and decided to reach out to non-Muslim organizations and community groups to demystify Islam and to condemn terrorism.

"When we reached out, we weren't even thinking of Hispanics; we didn't know much about Hispanics," said Mohammed Al-Hayek, the imam at the Islamic Educational Center of North Hudson, in Union City. "But they were the ones who responded. That's when we realized that our outreach focus had to be specifically Hispanics."  Al-Hayek brought in the head of a mosque in Ecuador and asked him to go out into the immigrant enclaves of Hudson County and talk about Islam. For four months, the Ecuadorean went out into the crowded streets of Union City and the surrounding towns, and encouraged people to ask questions about Islam and Muslims. He also visited homes and spoke to local organizations.  "Here was a Latino, someone the people in the Hispanic community could relate to, speaking to them in their own language about Islam," said Al-Hayek, a thin man with a friendly face and wide smile. "It wasn't Arabs speaking to them, and at the beginning especially, that made a big difference."

The mosque's efforts have paid off. Since Al-Hayek began the outreach program five years ago, some 500 Hispanics have visited the mosque, sitting in prayer sessions as guests and attending seminars on Islam. Many converted, usually from Catholicism. Now, Al-Hayek said, of the approximately 1,000 people who regularly worship at the mosque, nearly 200 are Hispanic converts.  Mohamed El-Filali, the outreach director for the Islamic Center of Passaic County, held an "open house" for Hispanics last summer. "Many of the Latinos who accept Islam are looking for what many people are searching for when they turn to religion in general, which is a way out of one kind of life and a means by which to reach divine acceptance."

Hispanics and Muslims note that their communities have much in common – tight-knit families, reverence for their elders and a tendency to dote on children. They also note that Islam is a core part of the history of Spain, where Muslim Moors ruled for about 800 years. And many Spanish words, they say, come from Arabic.  "They're coming back to their roots," Al-Hayek said.  The sound of Spanish now fills the air at many mosques. On Wednesday night at the mosque in Union City, a group of Hispanic converts spoke Spanish among themselves, with the more veteran ones teaching the newest mosque members how to put on a hijab.

"I don't understand a word they're saying," said Mariam Abbassi, an Oradell business owner, whose eyes darted back and forth as she strained to figure out the conversations. "I'm trying to learn. But it's a pleasure having them here. They're very enthusiastic, very warm; we Muslims feel very strongly about seeing others in our religion as Muslims, not Egyptians or Colombians or Puerto Ricans or Saudis."  Like many Hispanics who embrace Islam, Gonzalez came from a family of devout Catholics.  Back in Honduras, her grandmother insisted that Gonzalez strictly adhere to the religion.

"My grandmother whipped me if I didn't go to church, if I didn't read the Bible," she said. "It wasn't something for me that was allowed to develop naturally." Here, she discovered punk rock music and the punk lifestyle, and for a sheltered Honduran in her teenage years, it was alluring and liberating. "Punk girls wore tight pants, things that showed their figure," she said. "My hair was uncombed." She was marching to her own beat, but she was still unhappy, she said. "I was always stressed out, doing things I shouldn't do," Gonzalez said. "I prayed to be led to the right path." During a college course that looked at different religions, Gonzalez became intrigued by Islam.

"I read more and more about Islam," she said. "I wanted to know what it was that led so many people to submit entirely to this religion. When I read the Quran, I found the truth. It spoke about serving others, putting others first."

Islam made her feel anchored.

But Gonzalez learned that becoming Muslim comes at a price. Some Hispanic converts say they encounter objections from relatives, some of whom have disowned their newly Muslim daughters, sons and grandkids. They find themselves defending their new lifestyles against taunts and warnings by fellow Hispanics about getting recruited into terrorist organizations and losing their freedom to cult-like pressures. "Most of my family is bigoted against Muslims," said Vincent Gallardo, a student at William Paterson University who converted to Islam two years ago. "A close friend stopped speaking to me," he said. "My mother was very hurt. A Latino co-worker always called out to me: 'Hey Taliban, how's it going?' "  Gonzalez's conversion stunned her friends; some stopped speaking to her. Her parents objected, and she stayed at a friend's home for a while. Even when she found acceptance among some relatives and friends, she said, people disapproved of her veil – a common point of contention, for it is a very tangible, very public expression of devotion to Islam. Gonzalez's family has come to accept her conversion, she said, and appreciate the positive changes that have occurred in her.

"Islam means submission to God, not that you are chosen to go out and bomb a place – that is a specific group that is not practicing Islam the way it was intended," Gonzalez said. "We don't drink alcohol, we don't eat pork, we pray five times a day, and people look at that and call us fanatics."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: New Jersey
KEYWORDS: academia; academialist; catholic; catholiclist; familyvalues; hispanics; hispanicsislam; honduran; honduras; islam; latinos; mexico; msc; msu; wpu
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1 posted on 02/27/2006 12:28:14 PM PST by Coleus
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To: NYer


2 posted on 02/27/2006 12:28:31 PM PST by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, algae)
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To: Coleus


See, see, see! Racism IS only a crime of whites. Hispanics don't have any trouble accepting other cultures no matter how murderous and antisocial said culture is....


3 posted on 02/27/2006 12:31:00 PM PST by Tzimisce (How Would Mohammed Vote? Hillary for President!)
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To: Coleus

Islam is reaching out for a child near you.


4 posted on 02/27/2006 12:33:58 PM PST by mtbopfuyn (Legality does not dictate morality... Lavin)
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To: Coleus

El Cid would be proud. /sarcasm off


5 posted on 02/27/2006 12:35:20 PM PST by Tallguy (When it's a bet between reality and delusion, bet on reality -- Mark Steyn)
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To: Tzimisce

During a college course that looked at different religions, Gonzalez became intrigued by Islam. >>


I wonder if the professor had any role in her conversion.

Maybe she couldn't stand Ted Kennedy's family values anymore and left the church.


6 posted on 02/27/2006 12:35:31 PM PST by Coleus (What were Ted Kennedy & his nephew doing on Good Friday, 1991? Getting drunk and raping women)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: mtbopfuyn

"they blow up so fast"

http://ahmed-mohammed.mindswap.net/_Images/mediapics/suicidebombers.gif


8 posted on 02/27/2006 12:37:42 PM PST by bwteim (Begin With The End In Mind)
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To: All

ON THE NET...

ISLAMONLINE.NET: "Ask The Scholar"
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?cid=1118742803355&pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/Page/FatwaCounselE


9 posted on 02/27/2006 12:37:56 PM PST by Cindy
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To: Coleus
Islam...[has] a tendency to dote on children

Hmm..

10 posted on 02/27/2006 12:38:05 PM PST by ozoneliar ("The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants" -T.J.)
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To: Coleus
[Islam]...[has] a tendency to dote on children

Hmm..

11 posted on 02/27/2006 12:38:18 PM PST by ozoneliar ("The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants" -T.J.)
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To: mtbopfuyn

"Islam is reaching out for a child near you."

Just like Mohammed did.


12 posted on 02/27/2006 12:38:20 PM PST by Buck W. (John Kerry: The Emir of Absurdistan.)
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To: Coleus

Islam is the DREAM 'religion' for men who want to dominate women( the uber machismo of Latinos fits perfectly) and for women who want to be dominated.
People who are born into Islam are brainwashed from birth-thus having no chance of normal,independent mental development.
Those who choose Islam tend to have psychological makeups that want/need to control or be controlled. Perfect for the aberrant, mentally disturbed sociopaths of any culture!
Really- Islam is nothing more than cultural mental illness.


13 posted on 02/27/2006 12:39:53 PM PST by ClearBlueSky (Whenever someone says it's not about Islam-it's about Islam. Jesus loves you, Allah wants you dead!)
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To: Individual Rights in NJ

I got that for the article to...just another way to rebel....


14 posted on 02/27/2006 12:41:18 PM PST by Tulane
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To: Coleus

I am going to be sick.


15 posted on 02/27/2006 12:41:39 PM PST by mlc9852
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To: Coleus

The Roach Motel of Religions garners another adherent.

What a bogus article. So she grew up catholic rejected that to become a punk rocker but 'needed religion' and had to go to islam?!?

This paper should save the ink for more real stories of Muslims in action.... this blog is keeping tight track on it. Warning graphic pics in places, due to violence nature of what is going on; he showed last october the pic of beheaded christian indonesian girls, killed by muslim extremists:

http://dog-pundit.blogspot.com/


16 posted on 02/27/2006 12:41:51 PM PST by WOSG (http://freedomstruth.blogspot.com/)
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To: Coleus

Why aren't these kids finding what they're looking for in their parents' religion?


17 posted on 02/27/2006 12:42:09 PM PST by My2Cents ("The essence of American journalism is vulgarity divested of truth." -- Winston Churchill)
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To: Coleus

Another sucker.


18 posted on 02/27/2006 12:42:19 PM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: ClearBlueSky
Islam is the DREAM 'religion' for men who want to dominate women( the uber machismo of Latinos fits perfectly) and for women who want to be dominated. People who are born into Islam are brainwashed from birth-thus having no chance of normal,independent mental development. Those who choose Islam tend to have psychological makeups that want/need to control or be controlled. Perfect for the aberrant, mentally disturbed sociopaths of any culture! Really- Islam is nothing more than cultural mental illness.

Your xenophobic, 'Islamaphobic', racist statements offend me and my beliefs. /sarc

19 posted on 02/27/2006 12:42:51 PM PST by ozoneliar ("The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants" -T.J.)
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To: Cindy

Yep. Great indoctrination website.


20 posted on 02/27/2006 12:44:05 PM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: Coleus

"During a college course that looked at different religions, Gonzalez became intrigued by Islam. >>

I wonder if the professor had any role in her conversion. "

Obviously, yes. Multiculturalism strikes again .... they dont teach *our* culture, they undermine *our* culture with multicultural nonsense and other cultures fill the void created by the nihilistic vacuum.

Consider: that teacher may not even be a muslim, but almost certainly told her how evil christians were/are in the west (colonial/repressive, yadda yadda yadda marxist claptrap) and white washed 1400 years of islamic sins

Would this girl have become a muslim if she knew that Muhammed told men it was okay to beat their wives, just dont have sex right after the beating?

"Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great." - Koran, Surah IV: 34, "The Women."


22 posted on 02/27/2006 12:46:25 PM PST by WOSG (http://freedomstruth.blogspot.com/)
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To: Coleus

Just what we need -- more "home grown" Muslims.


23 posted on 02/27/2006 12:46:32 PM PST by expatpat
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To: Coleus

A few reasons the hispanics I know will never, ever become muslim:

Tripas
Tamales
Menudo
Pork rinds
Pig snout
Tequila
Mescal
Margaritas &
'weenies'


24 posted on 02/27/2006 12:46:34 PM PST by LongElegantLegs (Going armed to the terror of the public.)
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To: ClearBlueSky
"Islam is nothing more than cultural mental illness."

But you can get the same disease in public schools. (Without Islam):)

25 posted on 02/27/2006 12:46:57 PM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: Coleus
"In my past, I focused on myself. I didn't think about other people, about my parents, just myself and my circle of friends," she said. "Now, every day I strive to be better, to do good, to help others. I stopped being selfish and arrogant."

"Oh yeah, I almost forget, I'm also planning to blow myself up and kill a bunch of Jews."

26 posted on 02/27/2006 12:47:37 PM PST by Onelifetogive (* Sarcasm tag ALWAYS required. For some FReepers, sarcasm can NEVER be obvious enough.)
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To: Coleus
They also note that Islam is a core part of the history of Spain, where Muslim Moors ruled for about 800 years. And many Spanish words, they say, come from Arabic. "They're coming back to their roots," Al-Hayek said.

I don't think I would refer to being subjugated and enslaved by Moslem invaders for 800 years as "their roots".

27 posted on 02/27/2006 12:48:42 PM PST by Tokra (I think I'll retire to Bedlam.)
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To: Coleus
"A Latino co-worker always called out to me: 'Hey Taliban, how's it going?'"

LOL!

I'd love to go on break with this co-worker, buy her a Coke, and have some laughs!
28 posted on 02/27/2006 12:48:44 PM PST by A knight without armor
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To: Tzimisce

As long as the killing of Anglos is encouraged with a mandate from Allah himself...those already so inclined.. will be all for this new non Christian religion...

Then again pedophile priests probably do their part in encouraging some defections among Hispanics...as well.

imo


29 posted on 02/27/2006 12:51:25 PM PST by joesnuffy (A camel once bit our sister..but we knew just what to do...we gathered rocks and squashed her!)
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To: Coleus
Headline: Many Hispanics finding faith slavery in Islam

There. Fixed it!

30 posted on 02/27/2006 12:53:14 PM PST by Gritty (Pan-Islamics are now the I'd-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-in-perfect-harmonee crowd-Mark Steyn)
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To: sageb1

OPINION: Not for me it isn't.


31 posted on 02/27/2006 12:54:44 PM PST by Cindy
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To: Coleus
Holy Virgin of Guadeloupe! Will Fatima fill the void? And will there be suicide bombers wearing sombreros instead of turbins?
32 posted on 02/27/2006 12:55:38 PM PST by meandog (Five pillars of Islam: Allah's Mohammad is a 1. pedophile, 2. pimp, 3. puke, 4. pustz, 5. pig!)
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To: Coleus
Brainwashing. How could anyone in their right mind see anything good in what has been done in the name of this religion?

If anything, I would think there should be more people leaving Islam than joining it, but that's just me I guess.....

33 posted on 02/27/2006 12:56:52 PM PST by b4its2late (Terrorists will either succeed in changing our way of life, or we will change theirs. - Rummy)
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To: Cindy

What a joke that Mullah website is.


34 posted on 02/27/2006 12:57:35 PM PST by WOSG (http://freedomstruth.blogspot.com/)
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To: Coleus
Let's see .... a 20 year old girl. WOW ! Is she ever in for a rude awakening once this fun new experience gets old and she decides to move on to something else. Surprise ! Honey .... you STAY a moose-limb or you die !

Nam Vet

35 posted on 02/27/2006 12:57:50 PM PST by Nam Vet (The Democrat Party of America is perfectly P.C. * .(* P.C. = Patriotically Challenged)
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To: Coleus

Those that tell us not to worry about Illegals from the South, because they are mostly Catholics, need to open their eyes. These people that live in squalor, may find comfort in the arms of Allah, and we would have a real problem in this country.


36 posted on 02/27/2006 12:58:16 PM PST by jeremiah (The biggest threat to Americas survival today, meth usage.)
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To: Coleus

This trend, if it is a trend, is scary indeed.
Muzlims typically have a way with courting media and exagerrating their numbers for political clout and other such perks.

Spin apart, truth is that islam is expanding bigtime in prisons and colleges (?) and among some ethnic communities.

And its a one way street. Once a community/people/civilization/culture is lost to islam, it is lost forever.

Am sure if muslime countires permitted competitive prosletization, so many 1000s would accept the message of Christ and save themselves. In the west, many Iranian exiles are known to have embraced Christ. But they fear for their lives because apostates can be 'legitimately' killed under sharia'.



37 posted on 02/27/2006 12:58:49 PM PST by voletti (Awareness and Equanimity.)
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To: ozoneliar

"[Islam]...[has] a tendency to dote on children"

I'm looking for some freeper to post a pic of one of those 5-year-old Palestinian children in a suicide vest.


38 posted on 02/27/2006 12:59:53 PM PST by WOSG (http://freedomstruth.blogspot.com/)
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To: ozoneliar

LOL! I'm shocked! I am also offended that you were offended by my being offensive to those who have offended me! </sarc>


39 posted on 02/27/2006 1:02:40 PM PST by ClearBlueSky (Whenever someone says it's not about Islam-it's about Islam. Jesus loves you, Allah wants you dead!)
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To: clawrence3; Dane

Oh yoooooooooo hoooooooo!!! Ping a lingy ling!


40 posted on 02/27/2006 1:03:07 PM PST by Bradís Gramma
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To: Coleus
"In my past, I focused on myself. I didn't think about other people, about my parents, just myself and my circle of friends,"

You're STILL at it, hon. The more things change the more they remain the same.

Islam is about hating the 'Other', nothing more nothing less.

You have found a system that institutionalizes your anger.

Good luck with that.
41 posted on 02/27/2006 1:07:34 PM PST by TalBlack (I WON'T suffer the journalizing or editorializing of people who are afraid of the enemies of freedom)
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To: Individual Rights in NJ
What is it about Islam, other then the fact that it pisses off your parents, that you could not find in the Catholic religion.

Prohibition against alcohol for one. Separation from the opposite sex, not family members, for another.

Some people feel they need more restrictions than others...

42 posted on 02/27/2006 1:08:49 PM PST by ziggygrey
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To: WOSG
"[Islam]...[has] a tendency to dote on children"

Me, too! You beat me to it! (Or great minds think alike...) Still looking...

I've never heard of any Hispanic communities strapping bombs to their children, and I hope they never start.

43 posted on 02/27/2006 1:11:39 PM PST by fortunecookie
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To: Coleus

There's one born every minute. Hope she doesn't change her mind and try to repudiate allah - that's a death sentence.


44 posted on 02/27/2006 1:11:45 PM PST by Rummyfan
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To: Coleus
"My grandmother whipped me if I didn't go to church, if I didn't read the Bible," she said. "It wasn't something for me that was allowed to develop naturally."

And you think Muslim parents give their kids full room to grow organically? Please I see three year old girls running around covered head to toe in 90+ degree weather..

45 posted on 02/27/2006 1:11:49 PM PST by N3WBI3 (If SCO wants to go fishing they should buy a permit and find a lake like the rest of us..)
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To: Coleus
"We don't drink alcohol, we don't eat pork, we pray five times a day, and people look at that and call us fanatics."

Sorry, Gab, sin of omission. That's not what makes for fanaticism. If that's all there was to it, people wouldn't care.

46 posted on 02/27/2006 1:13:28 PM PST by siunevada (If we learn nothing from history, what's the point of having one? - Peggy Hill)
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To: ozoneliar
Islam...[has] a tendency to dote on children

Mad Mo certainly did! Especially of the female kind. Or maybe....

47 posted on 02/27/2006 1:13:51 PM PST by Rummyfan
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To: Individual Rights in NJ
Sounds to me like Muslums taking advantage of the moody adolesant who just wants to piss off mom and dad. I mean come on... this wreaks of everything to do with rebellion and nothing to do with religion.

I went to college with a white boy who did this for a few months. I guess being a heavily tattooed punk had gotten too common. After the Muslim thing quit getting him attention, he moved on to the rave scene and tried to become a show promoter/ecstasy dealer. Then he got arrested and ratted on a bunch of people. I don't know what happened to him after that.
48 posted on 02/27/2006 1:14:22 PM PST by Welsh Rabbit
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To: Coleus

A picture of a Hispanic female convert to Islam and a link to another article about Hispanic female converts.

http://www.cair-florida.org/ViewArticle.asp?Code=CM&ArticleID=483

49 posted on 02/27/2006 1:14:46 PM PST by Free ThinkerNY ((((Hitler is alive and well and living in the Muslim Nation))))
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To: Coleus

"Islam means submission to God, not that you are chosen to go out and bomb a place – that is a specific group that is not practicing Islam the way it was intended," Gonzalez said. "We don't drink alcohol, we don't eat pork, we pray five times a day, and people look at that and call us fanatics."

No we call you fanatics by the way you try to force your beliefs on the rest of us at the point of a gun. Or by not reigning those of you co-religionists who try that.


50 posted on 02/27/2006 1:16:19 PM PST by nuke rocketeer
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