Islam in the Caribbean

With focus on the cricket world cup, and the presence of Muslim sides like Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as Muslims in many of the other teams, we take time out to look at Islam in the Caribbean. Out of a total population of 35 million, 300,000 are Muslims. 31 countries form the Caribbean, 19 English, 5 French, 3 Spanish, and 4 Dutch-speaking regions. Some have mosques but most have none.

Largest Muslim populations are in English-speaking countries like Guyana (13%) and Trinidad & Tobago (8%). Jamaica has 5,000. In 1990 Muslims in Trinidad captured parliament, a TV station and the PM, hoping to set up an Islamic state. They surrendered after 6 days. Most are descendents of indentured servants from India and Indonesia. Over the past 30 years, Afro-Caribbeans have been converting to Islam.

In French-speaking countries like Guadeloupe, Guyana Fran├žoise, Haiti, and Martinique, the Muslim community is mainly immigrants from West Africa. Martinique has a wealthy Palestinian community who fled Jewish persecution.

Muslims on Spanish-speaking islands: Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico claim an Islamic heritage in the Americas dating back to the days of slavery and before that to Muslim Spain in the 8-15th centuries. Many trace their ancestry to north Africa and the Moriscos: Muslims forcibly converted to Christianity. A lot of Islamic culture is still retained in this part of Caribbean society, especially in language and names. There are 2,000 Palestinians in Puerto Rico with 2 mosques.

In Dutch-speaking countries, Surinam has 120,000 Muslims (28%) with 4 Muslim communities: Indonesians; Indo-Pakistanis, a growing Afro-Surinamese community and Arabs.

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