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Disaffected by anti-Latino rhetoric in politics, a growing number of Hispanics are converting to Islam in Houston and elsewhere, finding solidarity with other maligned groups, according to a Vice video on YouTube.
In America today, there are as many as 250,000 Latino proselytes who have renounced their Catholic upbringing and now adhere to the tenets of Mohammad, says Rice University Sociology Professor Craig Considine.
“With all the racism and xenophobia happening in this country, where are the Christian leaders who are taking a strong stand against it?” says Considine, who is himself Catholic but reaches out to Muslims. “A lot of Latinos are saying, ‘Maybe Islam is offering something that Christianity doesn’t offer.’”
Islam conquered Spain in the Middle Ages but was stopped in its northward advance at the Pyrenees Mountains by the formidable army of Charles Martel. Almost eight centuries later, Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Muslims out of Spain fully by 1492 in what as known as the Reconquest.
For the 34% of American Catholic population that is Latino, the battle for the hearts and minds of Spanish speakers is back on.
Jaime “Mujahid” Fletcher was raised in Columbia and Venezuela before he immigrated to America at age eight. His parents wanted a better life for him, but he fell into gangs and drugs. When he searched for solutions, he gravitated to the Koran.
Today Fletcher is the founder of America’s first Islam in Spanish Center in Houston, which has a thriving Latino Muslim congregation. They also mass-produce and distribute Islamic propaganda. Their online proselytism reached 14 million people during the month of Ramadan, Fletcher says.
“I looked for answers in so many different religions. Someone gave me the Koran, and the more I read it, the more life made sense,” Fletcher says on the “Minority Reports” Vice video. “My mother thought I was brainwashed when I became Muslim because I stopped drinking alcohol. I stopped going out with girls. I let go of all this stuff.”
Four months after his conversion to Islam, Fletcher was asked by his leaders to speak to Telemundo and Univision, Spanish channels in America, on behalf of Islam after Muslim terrorist hijacked planes and crashed them into New York City’s World Trade Center twin towers.
“They asked me to explain why Islam is not what people were thinking,” he says. “That some Colombians sell drugs doesn’t make me a drug dealer. That some Muslim goes and commits a wrong act, shouldn’t make me feel bad about being Muslim.”
His own family became very upset at his shifted loyalties, Fletcher admits. “How could you be part of that?” they asked him.
Raul Sanchez is a Mexican immigrant and DACA Dreamer in North Houston who converted in 2011. His family, like many other Latino families of converts to Islam, disowned him.
Because he lacked papers, he could only find under-the-table jobs, such as washing dishes for $5.00 an hour. The exploitation is what drove him to find solidarity with other marginalized people, he says.
“That’s when I really started getting the idea of what is Islam, how deep it was, and how it wasn’t what the media was portraying,” Sanchez says. “Being Latino and Muslim is a double whammy for me. I’m going to be attacked from all sides.
“My mom kicked me out of the house and threw all my clothes out,” Sanchez says. “She said I was joining a terrorist organization and they were training me to kill people.”
Eventually his mom visited the community and was won over. She apologized for her earlier rejection of her son and his coreligionists because she saw him feeding the homeless and doing other positive activities. She also converted to Islam.
Rice University’s Considine urges dialogue, not demagoguery, when competing for the hearts and minds of Latinos against Muslims in America.
“We are having a hangover from 9/11,” Considine says. Read the rest about this troubling trend of Latinos converting to Islam.
When he was only 7 and already showed signs of liking hip hop, a woman at church talked to Raúl García’s mother to warn her that rap was of the devil.
It’s a good thing Mom and Son ignored her. Today Raúl — known now as WHATUPRG — has literally exploded on the Christian Hip Hop scene, signing with Reach Records at age 21 without ever having made an album previously. RG (his stage name reads “What up, RG?”) is the face of the next generation of Christian rappers who are ministering to a new generation of fans.
“My parents have always supported me in my music,” RG says to NewH2O. “I know in my heart where I’m heading and where I’ve positioned myself allows me to speak to people and let them know it’s not about a bunch of rules but about His grace and His mercy and His love. So when I rap I want people to know that they’re not alone and there is grace for them too.”
RG is born of Mexican parents who immigrated (illegally) to the United States. He grew up in Gwinnett County, Georgia, where he went to church, listened to Christian Spanish rap and loved to perform at church functions.
Despite doubters in the same congregation, RG’s parents supported his musical inclinations and even paid for his first album to be produced when he was 14, a recording he now calls “trash.”
When he was 16, his dad was nabbed by immigration officers and deported to Mexico. This tore RG and led him to be outspoken on the divisive issue. “I’m still dealing with the emotional trauma to this day,” he tweeted.
It appears his dad is back home in Georgia, since RG tweeted about going vegetarian in 2017, only to be contradicted by his dad, who said they were eating carne asada. “I can’t be Mexican and healthy,” he quipped.
RG got noticed by CHH heavies when he filmed a video of himself and his friends at Walmart in 2017 with his song “Don’t Forget to Live.” The filmography was amateurish, but pros were impressed by the vocals and music. He started getting calls.
Soon he was nobigdyl’s Indie Tribe and was featured on Mogli the Iceberg’s song “Ride My Own” and others. Just months later, Lecrae signed him. He was making waves but was still an unproven quantity since he hadn’t dropped a professional album.
“On my 18th birthday, I was getting a 116 tattoo on my knee,” RG tells Trackstarz. “When I was turning 21, I was talking to my lawyer about the contract.”
RG’s blitz to fame has surprised even him, and he says he’s focusing on staying rooted in God. “God honors humility,” he says.
he fact he wants to stay low is refreshing to hear, especially when one contrasts that attitude with the braggadocio rife in secular rap, with artists boasting about their knife wounds and talk in hyperbolic terms about being “gods.”
In May 2018, RG dropped his debut album Pleasant Hill, which created a sensation. He hit #7 on iTunes hip hop sales. A Trackstarz interviewer said there’s not a song he doesn’t like on it. David Livick lists him among the Top 10 artists of 2018.
There are detractors, many of the historic fans of the 116 clique who don’t like the new direction of the label and want the Old School material. RG’s not Christian enough, some say. “STOP Imitating and Start innovating… what’s the point of copying the World, sounding, Looking and acting like them?” comments Leveled Head on the “Wesside” video. Read the rest about WhatUpRG Christian.