Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Arabic Language Instruction

Now this is the Colegio Argentino-Árabe , where Arabic language instruction is taught.

It is a Muslim institution, one of the few in Argentina; but notice the blonde in the front row. Notice the teachers. Notice how European many of the teachers and students look. All of the ladies are wearing pants. No burqas or hijabs here. The children are mixed gender. The dress is conservative, but Western.

Hardly what one would expect from a Traditional Sunni school.

From what I have read, a lot of non-Muslims take their courses to learn Arabic.

Of course, the Colegio-Árabe wants to convert Christians, and instruction in the Arabic language is a way to effect that; but it remains to be seen if the Christian students will actually water down Islam in Argentina.

Until recently, with the advent of Saudi money, Islam took a real beating in Argentina. Most Muslims were non-practicising. Intermarriage and conversion kept them pretty much on the edge of demographic collapse.

If you think I am exaggerating, this article by Pedro Breiger, an Argentine Academic and news commentator noted in 2000:

Muslims in Argentina

The number of Muslims in Argentina is decreasing, and this is due to several factors. Firstly, in families of Muslim origin, customs are being lost, from the Arabic language to food and drink. Secondly, there is relatively little reading material on Islam available in Spanish. There is a growing tendency toward mixed marriages in which children lose all references to Islam, and there are too few study centres for disseminating Islam. This may, however, change in the future with the construction of the new Islamic Cultural Center King Fahd, financed by the Saudi government, which includes a school and a mosque with a minaret in the heart of Buenos Aires. It is considered to be the largest of its kind in Latin America.

Pedro Brieger noted that Islam in Argentina, around 2000, was on life-support. It was dying out. There were not enough local support to save it.

But he also noted the potential problem of Saudi Arabian money and the King Fahd Mosque, which in 2000 was being built. This observation was prescient on his part.

The King Fahd Mosque – and Saudi Money – has caused some noticeable problems. However other sources indicate most of any increase in Muslims is coming from new non-Arab immigrants, NOT Arab Argentines. If true, the King Fahd Mosque may only be delaying the death of Islam.

It remains to be seen if Saudi Money will cause some major problems. If so, Argentina was foolish to have even allowed it in at all.

BTW: as an aside, notice the winter clothing (this is the Southern Hemisphere, and June is the dead of winter). Argentine schools are in disrepair. Central heating is not one of their strong points. Buenos Aires is borderline subtropical; but in winter it can get close to freezing.