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Latino Muslim speaks about religion

By Ali Fard
Daily Staff Writer
March 12, 2002

Daniel Islam Denton spoke about the Aztec Calendar and the history of the Spanish invasion of Mexico at the Latin-American Experience in the engineering building Friday.

The Muslim Student Association and MEChA sponsored a lecture titled "The Latin-American Experience" on Thursday in the Engineering building room189. Mohammad Naaman, a senior in computer science and a member of MSA, said the event had a special emphasis on Latino Muslims.

"One of our main goals is to show Islam is a religion practiced all over the world," Naaman said.

Daniel Islam Deton, a bilingual fourth grade teacher from Stockton and once the chair of MEChA at University of Pacific, spoke about his experiences with Islam.

"When I started hearing about Islam, I started hearing about (the Latin side)," Deton said. "I saw (the religion) through my own eyes."

To decipher the roots of Islam in Latin America, Deton analyzed a traditional Aztec sandstone calendar which has 20-day months.

He discussed the earliest signs of the religion when Columbus came to the mainland and the religious relationship of Native Americans on the continent.

He also discussed the way Europeans handled the religion.

"The Spanish had taken Spain from the Muslims," Deton said. "They said, 'If there is a chance you are Muslim, you better stop what you're doing.' "

Mojgan Mohammad, a senior in religious studies and administration of justice, said the lecture was an important way to inform students about the diversity of Islam.

"Islam is becoming a major religion in Latin American and no one knows about it," she said.

She said the idea for sponsoring the event with MEChA was to bring together two of the largest, progressive student organizations.

Adriana Cabrera-Garcia, a junior in public relations, said the invitation was offered by the MSA since the two groups collaborated for a peace vigil.

"We'll do anything to raise consciousness," she said. "Seeing on one level that there can be unity between school organizations and you don't hear about Chicanos being Muslims."

Cabrera-Garcia said the two groups would probably hold events again.

"On top of being friends, we do outside stuff together," she said.

Other speakers at the event included San Jose State University anthropology professor Dr. Roberto Gonzalez and Yusuf Al-Yusuf, president of American Muslims For Global Peace and Justice.

Naaman said the lecture was part of Islamic Awareness Week, which ends Tuesday evening with an event focusing on Islamic women.

Spartan Daily, San Jose State University, link