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  1. SURVEY: Islam IS COUNTY’S FASTEST GROWING RELIGION FASTEST GROWING RELIGIOUS GROUP IN 2000S: Islam Number of Muslims in S.D. grew from 7,878 to 21,994, survey says Written by Matt Clark 12:01 a.m., July 8, 2012 Updated 4:21 p.m. , July 7, 2012 Islam was the fastest growing religious group in San Diego County between 2000 and 2010, according to the recently released 2010 U.S. Religion Census. During the decade, the county’s Muslim population grew by 179 percent from 7,878 adherents to 21,994, according to estimates from the survey of the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. Islam is now the seventh-largest religion in the county, the survey found. Only one other group grew more here, in overall numbers. The county’s Mormon community grew by 25,227 followers, an increase of 55 percent, making it the third-largest church in the county. About one quarter of the county’s population is Catholic, making it the most popular religion despite the loss of 28,083 followers or 3.4 percent of its fellowship during the decade. The county had 801,850 Catholics in 2010, ahead of a religious group reported by the survey for the first time this year, a grouping of 148,930 nondenominational Christians which ranked second. The growth of Islam here is unique among California’s largest counties, according to the report. Both as a percentage and overall number, San Diego County’s Muslim population increase was nearly double that of any of the state’s 10 largest counties, according to the survey. Islamic Center of San Diego Imam AbdelJalil Mezgouri attributed the growth of the county’s Muslim population to immigration, especially among Somali, Iraqi, Afghan and Bosnian refugees, and to an increase in births and Muslim conversions. He said the growth, which mirrors a national trend, has brought new challenges to the county’s Muslim community, but has also brought more understanding of Islam to the county as a whole. “Of course, as we say, there is no gain without pain,” Mezgouri said. “The culture is becoming very, very diverse and also some of them have the challenge of adapting with the new place and the language, especially.” Cabdriver Mohammed Abdi came to the U.S. from Kenya in 2005, following his brothers and other relatives who came earlier seeking economic opportunities. He said becoming an American Muslim was a challenge at first, as he struggled to attend Friday prayers regularly. To avoid missing out three weeks in a row, which is shunned by Islam, he would sneak out of work to attend Masjid. He said being in America has ultimately strengthened his faith in Islam. “When I came to America is when I really started to practice Islam strongly,” Abdi said. “I saw a lot of Christians around me and I worried I would lose my faith.” Aside from San Diego’s weather, which is attractive to immigrants from warmer climates, Mezgouri said San Diego County’s large refugee communities also lead to increased immigration. The federal government resettles refugees in areas where their family or friends live or where they have the best opportunity for a new life. According to Horn of Africa, the San Diego-based African refugee assistance organization, San Diego has the second-largest East African refugee population in the country. The group’s economic development director, Hussein Nuur, said the refugee community organizations — many based in City Heights — help new arrivals settle. Page 1 Source: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/08/tp-survey-Islam-is-countys-fastest-growing/
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