L.A. LATINOS AND MUSLIMS UNITE IN TRUMP’S AMERICA

World Religion News

BY COREY BARNETT 20 MAR 2017

LATINOS, MUSLIMS, AND LATINO-MUSLIMS STAND TOGETHER IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. Southern California is one of the few places in the United States where two of the most draconian measures pushed by the Trump administration overlap. President Donald J. Trump's executive order on banning Muslims from six countries and clear hostility towards Latin American immigrants have frightened Hispanic Muslims living in and around Los Angeles. They are now relying on community groups, family ties, and local mosques to gauge the terrifying new immigration climate.

Six local groups that specialize in a wide range of subjects, from labor issues troubling the Latino community to rights of Muslims in the United States, were brought together by a community organizer, Shakheel Sayed. Sayed said, “I think it's a really great moment to forge alliances and to work together."

Nowhere else is the blend of Islam and Latin American cultures more prominent than the support group La Asociación Latino Musulmana de América. The gathering inside the community group mirrors the cultural mergers often seen in a place where a family and their neighbors come from different parts of the world. Many Latinos were Christians before they converted to Islam. This happened mostly due to marrying a Muslim partner or finding appeal in Islamic teachings. Almost all mosques in Southern California have Hispanic Muslims praying in them.

As per findings by the Pew Research Center, the United States is now home to over 100,000 Muslims of Latino ancestry. They make up a tiny proportion of the country's 3.3 million Muslims. They also make up a portion of the United States’ 57 million Latinos. The Latino Muslims are found mostly in areas where there is a large Latino population. These include U.S. states like New Jersey, California, Florida and Texas. Houston, Texas, however, is the center of the community. Mosques there have had services in Spanish for years from the educational non-profit Islam in Spanish. An organization that produced online videos and distributed Korans written in Spanish before opening the Centro Islamico mosque.

The Centro Islamico is a huge structure, spanning 5,000 square feet of space. The interior of the structure includes a prayer hall, Islamic history exhibits, social room and a gift shop. There is also a studio where classes and sermons are streamed over the Internet. The interiors bear a resemblance to Mezquita de Cordoba, the historic 10th century mosque in Spain. The walls are decorated with white and red striped patterns. The congregational prayers held every Friday draws large crowds.

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