Muslim Converts in Chiapas, Mexico

June 27, 2003

Source: Knight Ridder

On June 27, 2003 Knight Ridder reported that Juan "Gómez, 26, a former Protestant who became a Muslim in 1996, is learning the language as a convert to Islam. He embodies a religious phenomenon in Chiapas [Mexico], where one-quarter of the 3.9 million people are poor Maya peasants who practice myriad religions, often blending ancient rituals with Roman Catholicism... The religious conquest of Chiapas persists five centuries after Spanish priests fought to convert the Maya, burning their books of complex hieroglyphics. Chiapas is unusual in mostly Catholic Mexico for its near-constant state of religious turmoil... Since the arrival of U.S.-based Protestant missionaries decades ago, this southernmost state bordering Guatemala has been wracked by violent clashes as faiths compete for souls... Islam joined the religious skirmishes in 1995 with the arrival of Muslim missionaries from Spain. So far, they have converted about 300 Chiapas families. There are only a few thousand Muslims in Mexico."