How Islam took root in one of South America’s most violent cities

The Colombian port of Buenaventura is home to a small Muslim community who have successively embraced the Nation of Islam, Sunni and Shia interpretations

Sibylla Brodzinsky in Buenaventura/The Guardian – Monday 23 January 2017 04.00 EST

 

Blaring salsa music from a neighbouring bar does not perturb Sheik Munir Valencia as he bows in prayer at a family home-turned-mosque in the poor, violence-racked Colombian city of Buenaventura.

His prayers finished, Valencia sheds his brown tunic, sits down at a plastic table and describes his role as the spiritual leader of an Islamic community like few others.

The small community of Afro-Colombian Muslims in Colombia’s main Pacific port city have over the years embraced the teachings of the Nation of Islam, mainstream Sunni Islam, as well as its rival Shia denomination.