Official says Mexico will expel some Islamic missionaries

The Associated Press

6/16/02 7:42 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Some foreign missionaries working

for an Islamic group in the southern state of Chiapas

have been asked to leave Mexico because they lack

proper residency documents, a Mexican immigration

official said Sunday. 

The missionaries -- who include Basque converts to

Islam from Spain -- have converted a number of Chamula

and Tzotzil Indians, but have never applied for status

as a religious organization, said Javier Moctezuma

Barragan, assistant secretary of the National

Immigration Institute. 

Because their missionary group, Mision para el Dawa en

Mexico, doesn't have legal status here, it has never

asked for minister's visas for the men. The

missionaries apparently entered Mexico on tourist

visas that prohibit them from working here, even on a

volunteer basis. 

Authorities began investigating the group, which is

linked to the Morocco-based Murabitun World Movement,

following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Moctezuma

Barragan told the government news agency Notimex. 

He did not say how many missionaries had been asked to


However, the request that they leave the country -- in

the form of letters recently sent to them by the

government -- was apparently based only on the alleged

violation of immigration laws, not terrorism concerns.

The Murabitun World Movement has a generally leftist

slant and a strict interpretation of Islam. Some

reports suggest its Mexican missionaries may have had

links to both the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas and

Basque separatists in Spain. 

The missionaries were not immediately available to


Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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