Skip to comments.Islam is the new religion in rebellious Mexican state Chiapas
Posted on 12/30/2009 5:22:34 AM PST by TigerLikesRooster
Islam is the new religion in rebellious Mexican state Chiapas
Published on : 17 December 2009 - 11:13am | By RNW English section
More and more Mayan and Tzotzil people in the Mexican state Chiapas are becoming Muslims. It's fifteen years since the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas and the region has undergone some profound changes. One of them is the emergence of Islam as a new religion in the state. The Muslim community, dominated by converted Mayans and Tzotzils , is slowly gaining ground.
By Jan-Albert Hootsen
Molino de los Arcos is one of the poorest neighbourhoods of San Cristóbal de las Casas, the second largest city in Chiapas and popular with tourists for its colonial beauty. The barrio is ethnically almost entirely indigenous, with Tzotzil Mayan as the dominant language. On Fridays, though, you can hear the slow, monotonous Arab chants of Muslim prayer. In a wooden shack, painted with Arab religious phrases, some twenty Tzotzil Muslim families have established a small place of worship.
"This is where we cleanse our spirits and pray to Allah. Not everyone came today, some people have to work," Imam Salvador Lopez Lopez smiles. "But we are doing well. Our community is still small, we are maybe two hundred, but little by little we're growing."
Lopez converted to Islam in 1995 and adopted the Arab name of Muhammad Amin. He was one of the first Tzotzils to embrace the religion. He describes his conversion as a tough, two-year period of soul searching. "There is a lot of ignorance in Chiapas about Islam. Nobody really knew what it was and at first I myself wasn't sure it was the thing for me. My family didn't agree with it either at first. It was hard."
Alternative to capitalism
There have always been Muslims in Mexico, but they were usually immigrants from Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East. It wasn't until 1995, when Spanish Muslims led by Aureliano Pérez left for Mexico to spread the word of Allah, that Mexicans themselves started converting to Islam.
The arrival of the Spanish can be seen in direct relation to the uprising of the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas, in 1994. They saw the impoverished state as fertile ground for the principles of Islam. Indigenous Mayans and Tzotzils have led marginalised lives ever since the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. They live in extreme poverty, suffer exploitation by corrupt governments and racism by white and mestizo Mexicans (people with mixed European and Native American racial origin). Alcoholism among indigenous Mexicans is rampant.
The Mayans and Tzotzils belong to the Murabitun movement within Sunni Islam, which upholds a strict ban on the use of alcohol and profits made on money lending. It has proven to be attractive to indigenous Chiapanecos as a viable alternative to capitalism. Yet Muhammad Amin stresses that Islam is not just for indigenous Chiapanecos: "Allah makes no distinction between race. We welcome everyone."
The social component in Chiapaneco Islam did present itself in its early days though, when the Muslims under Nafia offered to support the Zapatista rebels of Subcomandante Marcos. Many Zapatista rebels, who fight for indigenous rights and land reform, are Tzotzils. A number of them did convert, even though Marcos was hesitant at first. The Mexican government was alarmed and started monitoring the presence of Islam. Former president Vicente Fox even accused them of having links with Al-Qaeda, although solid proof was never presented.
Muhammad Amin chuckles when he refers to these accusations. "We have no links whatsoever with any foreign group of Muslims, and we have no problem with any other religion here. Islam means peace, we respect everyone around us."
That doesn't mean that Christians responded positively to their new competitors. Andrés Ferrer, who now goes by the Arab name of Muyahid, converted to Islam in 1998. He's had to overcome a lot of prejudice:
"Many people reacted badly, because they have no idea what Islam is. Some of them even called us terrorists. My own family called me crazy!"
Islamic pizza restaurant
Despite the opposition Islam is doing well in Chiapas. The Muslims have opened a madrasah or Qur'an school, an Islamic mission, a carpenter's shop and a pizza restaurant. They teach Arabic to new converts and even organize the hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca, which many indigenous Muslims have already undertaken. Islam is growing slowly but surely, says Imam Lopez:
"In this particular mosque there are seventeen Islamic families now. Gradually more people are opening themselves up to the word of Allah. Yes, I think we are here to stay."
If the exploding panties fit...
Thanks for posting.
And I thought this was supposed to be an “impoverished area”. How many pesos does a jet flight to Saudi Arabia cost? How many years does an average indigenous farm worker have to work to be able to afford such a pilgrimage unless it is heavily subsidized from outside.
This is very, very bad news. The only saving grace of our open border to date is: most of our immigrants aren’t muzzies.
The Sauds have spent $80 BILLION proselytizing Salafi Sunni Islam (sometimes referred to as Wahhabism) worldwide since 1979. The Salafi sect is of course that which gave birth to Al Qaeda and Lashkar e Taiba.
Note also that Islam, like communism, is being touted as an alternative to capitalism...
This group was brought to Chiapas by a Spaniard who had been a leader of ETA (Basque terrorist organization) and found an even better terrorist organization. It's popular among young Spanish leftist university students.
One of the problems with Chiapas was that the Catholic bishop was very leftwing (he has since been replaced). Pentecostal groups started coming in and setting up churches, and Chiapas had a relatively large group of Protestants among these Indians. But the Pentecostals have a "retention problem," and many of their converts either drift away from religion entirely or move on to another religion, in this case, Islam. The Spanish-based leftist Islamic group was making really aggressive attempts to recruit them, and it was obviously successful.
Supposedly Prince Charles, btw, is not a sufi but a member of this marabitun movement, like many of the European elite.
I am seeing a pattern of events that appear possibly to be a determined effort to promote, and contain our military interests to this hemisphere in the near future.
The events in S. America, and the Caribbean cannot all be by chance.
So far. That will change over time.
Like a cancer it spreads
its like Red Dawn, all over again.
( I agree with your statement and am not trying to be a smartass)
How would we even know?
Some may have seen this but it can’t hurt to have another look.
Now tell me we don’t have a serious freaking security problem at the border.
“Supposedly Prince Charles, btw, is not a sufi but a member of this marabitun movement, like many of the European elite.”
Not that I give two sh*ts about the royals, but I wonder if that is what’s driving the queen’s looking to William as the next king. Charlie does seem to have a soft spot in his heart for islam.
‘Sunni Islam, which upholds a strict ban on the use of alcohol and PROFITS made on money lending.’
No wonder the left is eerily quiet on Islam and its beliefs.
They will ignore Islam brutality toward women as long as the word PROFITS is considered naughty.
Very bad indeed. This is going to spread. We’ll have an islamic state on our border before we know it and everywhere islam borders on the West there’s major trouble.
Whats going to happen is the general public is going to take the law into their own hands on these invaders and the Federal government will start shooting Americans defending America.
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