Culture

[VIDEO] Meet the Only Indigenous Mexican Tribe to Convert to Islam

In the outskirts of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, an indigenous Mexican tribe is living a life based on the Islamic faith.

According to a new mini-doc by Vice, the Tzotzil Indians are the only indigenous Mexican tribe to convert to Islam.

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Credit: VICE / YouTube

Ibrahim Chechev, above, is the community’s Imam – their worship leader. “The fact that Islam arrived to this remote and isolated location, socially and demographically, is a true privilege,” said Chechev to VICE. “This community is aware of and practices Islam.”

That’s right. A large indigenous community in Mexico converted to Islam.

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Credit: VICE / YouTube

All told, there are 700 Tzotzil Indians living and practicing the Islamic faith.

How did Islam come to such a secluded part of the world? Aureliano Pérez, a Spaniard, brought the religion with him in the mid-90s.

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Credit: VICE / YouTube

Pérez intended to bring Islam to the Zapatistas in Chiapas, but Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos declined Pérez’s attempts to convert the militant group. Pérez then took the issue to church leaders and other members of the community in San Cristobal de las Casas. Eventually, Islam became a part of life for hundreds of Tzotzil tribe members.

Chechev was there during one of the first meetings and helped make Islam what it is today for the Tzotzil tribe.

God is Great
Credit: VICE / YouTube

As the importance of Islam has grown, members of the Tzotzil tribe are working together to build their very own mosque.

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Credit: VICE / YouTube

Architect Percy Moranchel says the creation of the mosque has not faced any opposition from neighbors or others living in the community. Instead, Moranchel says the people are driven by the desire to help those who are choosing the right path, which he says is in line with the Islamic faith.

According to Google Maps, here is where they currently hold their worship, Masjid Medinah.

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Credit: Google Maps

The religious group used to meet in Chechev’s home for prayers and major religious holidays like Ramadan.

READ: A Mexican Coca-Cola Commercial was Supposed to Create Unity, but It Pissed People Off

The tribe has figured out how to respect their new religion while sticking to Mexican traditions. Here they are eating chicken tacos during their Ramadan fast break.

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Credit: VICE / YouTube

No carnitas allowed.

Check out the full video below to learn more about Mexican Muslims:

Credit: VICE / YouTube

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Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Things That Matter

Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the historic role of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico after a former Mexican army chief was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles on drug charges at the request of the DEA.

The former Mexican Defense Minister was arrested by the DEA on drug charges.

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepedas was the secretary of National Defense in the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018. President Lopez Obrador claims that the arrest is proof of corruption from past governments.

President Lopez Obrador used the arrest to criticize the U.S. government and the DEA.

President Lopez Obrador, speaking at a press conference in Oaxaca, claimed that there is a double standard. While Cienfuegos Zepedas has been arrested by the DEA, the president claims U.S. officials have not been held accountable for trafficking arms into Mexico to track them to the cartels. According to the president, Mexican officials are being held at a higher and harsher standard than U.S. officials.

“Why is it that it’s just the people in Mexico who took part in these acts being accused or implicated, and (the DEA) aren’t criticizing themselves, reflecting on the meddling by all these agencies in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “They came into the country with complete freedom, they did whatever they wanted.”

The former defense minister’s arrest sent shockwaves through Mexico.

Cienfuegos Zepedas was the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the U.S. with drug-related corruption. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport and will be facing drug and money-laundering charges. It’s been less than a year since Genaro Garcia Luna was charged with taking bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

President Lopez Obrador wants to protect the military’s reputation.

Lopez Obrador also said he hopes that the armed forces aren’t blamed for this scandal and that Mexico must take care of institutions as important as the Secretary of National Defense. Mexico does not currently have an ongoing investigation of the retired general and will await the result of the U.S. investigation, according to the president of Mexico. 

Cienfuegos Zepedas is due to make a court appearance related to four charges in California on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

READ: This Is What Mexico’s AMLO Wants From The Pope For The Churches Crimes Against Indigenous Mexicans

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Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

Entertainment

Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

tecolotes_2_laredos / Instagram

Sports have a way of bringing people together. The experience of rooting for your team is a unifying feeling that transcends borders and culture. Showtime is exploring the importance of sports through the lens of the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos.

“Bad Hombres” is a documentary highlighting immigration under President Trump through baseball.

Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos are the only binational professional baseball team in the world. The team splits their home games between stadiums in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Director Andrew Glazer wanted to highlight the immigration issue through a sports lens to offer a different layer to the narrative.

“Most of the people trying to come into the U.S. are families and children trying to escape horrible violence in Central America,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “That story has been told, so what I wanted to do was show people in a way that I thought would be relatable to what life is like on the border. What life is like on those two sides and how interconnected they are. The thing that struck me to be honest is that initially in Laredo, Texas was how pervasive Spanish is spoken.”

The documentary shows the struggles of the baseball team trying to make sense of the volatile U.S.-Mexico border relations.

The Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos split time playing their home games between two stadiums in the U.S. and Mexico. The Trump administration’s constant battle with Mexico and threats to close the border put the team’s season in jeopardy. A first look teaser shows team managers trying to coordinate the release of game tickets in time with the ever-changing immigration announcements from the Trump administration.

“Bad Hombres” speaks politics without directly addressing politics.

“Even though my film has an overarching political message, the players are not covertly or overtly political in any way,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “They are baseball players and they are living their lives and a lot of them are trying to make it to the majors and some of them were in the majors and are now finishing their careers. There wasn’t a whole lot of political discussions.”

Glazer made sure to highlight the depths and complexities of the team members dealing with the political climate without politics.

“Inherently, what made the team fascinating is you had players from the U.S. who were Anglo-American players and Mexican American players who had a different perspective,” Glazer told DJ Sixsmith. “Then you had Mexican players and some Dominican players and Cuban and people from everywhere else. There were different languages and different perspectives. Seeing how that developed over time was pretty fascinating.”

“Bad Hombres” is streaming on Showtime.

READ: Veronica Alvarez Is The Coach For The Oakland A’s And Her Presence Is Giving Girls A Chance To Pursue Baseball

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