The New York Times
The New York Times reports of a rise in conversions to Islam in France. According to the paper, a virtual doubling of conversions took place within the last 25 years in the country. Of the estimated six million Muslims in France about 100,000 – 200,000 are thought to be converts. It is said to pose a challenge to both state and society’s relation to Muslim faith and community, specifically in respect to national and international anti-terrorism policies
Converts are named critical elements for the rise of terrorism in Europe by being prone to be more invisible, mobile and in need to overcompensate their novelty to faith. The article names prisons to be fertile grounds for conversions where according to reports 1/3 of the inmate population in France are Muslim. Gordard, who is responsible for religious affairs in the Office of the Secretary of State and a former intelligence office, identifies the forms of conversions to have come under change. As such, conversions today often take place as means of “reverse integration” that aid to socially integrate non-Muslims into predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods in the metropolitan suburbs. The population most susceptible to conversions are men beyond the age of 40 who were born in former French colonies or overseas territories.
According to scholars and converts themselves, “Islam has come to represent not only a sort of social norm but also a refuge, an alternative to the ambient misery”.