Latino Muslims, Other, USA

Latino Muslim Survey Report

Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the US Muslim population. According to some estimates, there are between 55,000 and 198,000 Latinos practicing Islam in the country. At a time when President Donald Trump has issued a ban on Muslim refugees from seven countries and fortified Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the group has become particularly vulnerable. However, research explaining why many Latinos have converted to Islam or shedding light on the group’s experiences in the United States remains scarce. Hoping to fill this gap, Gastón Espinosa, Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont Mckenna College, conducted the first-ever, large-scale survey research of Latino Muslims.

This Comprehensive Study Sheds Light on the Latino Muslim Experience

The term Latino Islamidad may not yet be mainstream, but a new report explores why a growing number of U.S. Latinos convert to Islam in hopes of understanding what it means to be a Latino Muslim today. The report is published in last month’s Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion.

Findings come from the Latino Muslims Survey (LMS), the most comprehensive social science oriented study of U.S. Latino Muslims, which examines an intersection of religious beliefs and practices; spiritual, moral, social, and ethical views; and the social, civic, and political attitudes of self-identified Latinos and Muslims. Findings are based on an online, bilingual survey of U.S. Latino Muslims conducted from Sept. 8 to Dec. 15, 2014. More than 560 Latino Muslims participated in the nationwide survey.

New report explores the identity of Latino Muslims in the United States

Latino Muslims have emerged in a religious landscape that is “diverse and fluid” and in a public discourse that too often frames Latinos and Muslims as foreign and problematic in the U.S. (PEW 2014). This was nowhere more evident than in the wake of the 2016 Election when President Donald Trump issued a 90-day ban on Muslim immigration from seven countries, citing national safety concerns regarding the vetting process. While Latino Muslims were not part of this ban, because of their religion, immigration status, similar physical characteristics, and/or intermarriage, many Latinos (Muslim and non-Muslim) felt the ban reinforced negative stereotypes and created a hostile environment to live, work, and raise their families. For this reason – along with talk about building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Latino Muslims worked across racial, class, and religious lines to oppose the ban and “anti-immigrant” policies.

At one interfaith rally in San Antonio in January 2017, three Latino Muslim children held up a sign that read: “All this Cuteness Courtesy of Latino Muslim Immigrants: No Ban, No Wall” (Davis 2017, Natiral 2017). These stories of Latino Muslims help to denaturalize popular assumptions about religion in public life, such as that all Latinos are Catholic, all Muslims are Arabs, and all Americans are Christian. They also raise important questions about the complex relationship between Latinos, Muslims, conversion and the growth and role of Islam in the new religious U.S.

Latino Muslims in the United States: Reversion, Politics, and Islamidad (Download the full report)