I don't have the stats on it, but I suspect the majority of the "converts" are disaffected young black males who are being duped into believing that Islam is an African religion, rather than one imported there by Arab slavers, merchants, and conquerors.
They are mostly African American; something that has been noticed and capitalized on by Muslim clerics worldwide. In the 1980’s the Republic of Iran issued a Malcolm X stamp (way before America ever did), the Saudi royal family has financed and had distributed brochures to the African American community, and many “Islam for Beginners” books have long sections dedicated to the racial equality that exists in Islam. For instance, unless determined by geography there are no “Black Mosques,” “Arab Mosques,” and “White Mosques” in Orthodox Islam, there are only Mosques that serve the entire community.
As far as Islam and the East African slave trade most African American Muslims don’t want to talk about it, many of them even deny the slavery that exists in Sudan today. Just talk to one of them about the History of Christian Nubia (Sudan and Southern Egypt). Ask them how do they feel about that once flourishing Black Christian civilization being overrun by Muslim fanatics. Ask them how they feel that these Muslims have destroyed priceless remains of the African civilization just like the Taliban destroyed the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan.
The fact of the matter is that Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism are not only free of the exploitation of Protestantism and Islam but Orthodoxy even has an ancient presence in the African world.
most African-Americans have their origins in areas that were never significantly Islamic.
It’s actually about 50/50. As West African Muslims ceased being the middlemen in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade it became more possible for Pagans to capture Muslim Africans because the taboo on enslaving a fellow Muslim was no longer a significant factor. Alex Hailey, the famous author of “Roots” descended from an Islamic Mandingo tribe.
The Zionism stuff seems to me to potentially be more of an issue for American Orthodoxy than for the rest of the world.
I am afraid you are mistaken here. Zionism and the state of Israel is the greatest issue in the Arab world just as South Africa was the greatest issue in Africa during the 80’s. As Linus has correctly stated most American Protestant missionary organizations are Zionists. People like Pat Robertson are very vocally political and fanatical Zionists. Arab Christians are always complaining about the negative impression that these people leave on Muslims with regard to Christianity.
As for Coca-Cola, the whole problem with it (for muslim radicals anyway) is precisely that it is attractive.
The symbols, artifacts, and ‘goods’ from the dominant imperial countries—from Rome to America—have always seemed ‘attractive’ to the people in the periphery. Nothing new, just the same old cultural imperialism with a new sponsor. If you look at the map of the distribution of Christian missionaries (available in the actual magazine article but not on-line) you will notice that in Africa the weird distribution of their numbers. They are more in number in Orthodox Ethiopia than they are in the surrounding Islamic regions. That is because they are more concerned with spreading cultural subversion and sheep stealing than in converting non-Christians to Christ.
It reminds me of a story of Anglican missionaries requesting that the Ethiopian Emperor Yohaness allow them to set up shop to spread the good news of Jesus Christ in Ethiopia. Yohaness replied that he had enough deacons, Priests and Bishops to accomplish this task so thanks, but no thanks. The English missionaries then responded by saying that they had come not for the Christians under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church but for the Muslims and the Jews that were in the Empire. Yohaness was puzzled; he asked the anxious Englishmen how they managed to miss all the Muslims in Libya, Egypt and Sudan while they were in route to Ethiopia. Further how did they miss the Jews in Palestine and in their very own country? The Englishmen had no answer because there was no answer besides the truth that they, like most of the Protestant missionaries in Africa those days, were agents of the British crown and were the forerunners of colonialism. They wanted to create a situation in Ethiopia similar to the one they created in Kenya where nowadays the average (Protestant) Christian Kenyan has a European name for a “Baptismal” name and first name. They will honestly tell you that they would feel bitter if their first names were not Gibson, Jackson, and Duncan (this is a direct experience of mine that I gained while doing archaeological research in the Taita Mountains).
These are the very same people that are going to go giving Christianity a negative image in the Muslim world. I say Orthodox Christians should get busy and return to the evangelizing heritage of the first Christians.