Official says Mexico will expel some Islamic missionaries

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Official says Mexico will expel some Islamic missionaries

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 leave.

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 comment.

Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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