The number of converts is estimated at 40,000 to 70,000. Latinos are abandoning Mary and turning to Islam...
"Across the nation, thousands of Latino immigrants are redefining themselves through Islam, including a few hundred in the Washington region, according to national Islamic groups and community leaders. Precise numbers are not available, but estimates range from 40,000 to 70,000.
The conversions speak to a larger evolution of immigrant identity, as a new generation ingests a cultural smorgasbord of ideas they were rarely exposed to in their homelands. Today, it's easier than ever to learn about Islam from Spanish translations of the Koran, Islamic magazines and Web sites." (source)
They find devoutness in Islam they find lacking in Catholicism. They see similar tenets of family that are in integral part of Latino culture in Islam.
--and--- (get this)
"Latino women find what most westerners rarely see -- a respect for women, unlike, some converts say, the machismo culture in which they were raised." (source)
A common theme throughout the article is that converts felt there was no real devotion in Catholicism. Something the Catholic Church may want to examine --not a good endorsement that people are leaving for Islam in a post-9/11 world...
The other re-occurring theme is "respect for women":
"...She said it doesn't bother her that women in Islam have different roles, roles that many westerners describe as repressed. Where they see inequality, she sees respect. A respect, she said, she doesn't see often in Latino culture.
"The way Latin men portray women, it's terrible," Avelar said. "You look at Spanish CDs, and you see women in bikinis on the cover."
Before Islam: The day laborers at a nearby 7-Eleven whistled and cat-called -- " ¡Oy Mamacita ! " -- as she passed them. After Islam: The day laborers stared in silence as she, in her hijab, passed them.
"The fact they stayed quiet, I was like, ' Alhamdulillah! '," said Avelar, reciting the Arabic phrase "Praise be to Allah."
"I love the respect that I get from the opposite sex [when I'm] in hijab." (source)
(Personally, I don't think it's respect, I think it's fear --what is under that hijab?) And how bad is the Latino culture that Islam looks like it embraces women?!
Add this to the growing list of reasons to plug our porous borders.