Friday, June 15, 2007

Hispanic Muslims in Atlanta Overcome Anti-Muslim stereotypes

Hispanic Muslims in Atlanta Overcome Anti-Muslim stereotypes

By Ana Catalina Varela
Mundo Hispanico

March 1st, 2007

Adapted by TMO from an article originally published in Mundo Hispanico,
a Spanish-language weekly in Atlanta, Georgia.

Hispanic Muslims in Atlanta are set on changing the negative image that
some in the Latino community might have of them. That is the mission of
the Atlanta Latino Muslim Association (ALMA), a group founded by Siri
Carrion, a Puerto Rican woman who is also Muslim.

Wearing her hijab and kneeling, Carrion starts preparing to pray
alongside her four children. One of them, Ismail, raises his hands and
starts by saying the ‘adhan, inviting the angels into this family’s
living room.

Carrion, who grew up in Northern California as a Muslim, moved to
Georgia about eight years ago and saw the need for Latino Muslims to
come together.

She is the founder of ALMA, the first group in the state that seeks to
unite Hispanics who profess Islam, to create a venue for them to share
their culture and religion.

“As Latino Muslims we seek unity and also to educate the rest of the
Hispanic community about Islam, especially with the war in Iraq and
after 9/11, there are some who have a negative perspective of what it is
to me Muslim,” said Carrion.

She explains that one of the main reasons why ALMA was founded were to
raise awareness in the community about Islam and to provide access to
information in Spanish to those who want to learn and understand the

“We currently have about 20 members who come from countries like
Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba and Puerto Rico, just to name a few. As
Latinos and Muslims, we speak the same language, eat similar foods and
have similar cultural perspectives, and we also share the same faith,”
she added.

Carrion, who works as a tax administrator for a business in the city of
Marietta, also dispels the myths that some have of Muslim women. Being
Muslim and a woman have not been an obstacle for her to become an
example for her two young daughters.

The oldest of them, 13 year-old Maryam, looks up to her and wears her
hijab proudly to school every day.

“I was raised in Islam but I was not forced to use the hijab. I chose to
use it as an adult. But my daughter chose to wear it since she was
young. She does so with pride and has never been teased at school, she
is proud to believe in Islam and the other children see her as a
faithful Muslim,” said Carrion.

Posted on her fridge, she has a picture of one of the hijacked planes
flying into one of the World Trade Center towers on September 11. She
explains that her purpose in doing so is to reject those violent actions
and to remind her children that they are not like those men. They are a
family of peace-seeking, God-loving Muslims.

The Muslim Observer
Special Features, Regional, National news, 9-10

Adapted by TMO from an article originally published in Mundo Hispanico,
a Spanish-language weekly in Atlanta, Georgia.

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