Forced conversions to Islam are as old as the religion itself.
I’ve never understood why it works. Wouldn’t you quietly seethe with anger or stew in resentment over having been made to give up the sacred beliefs that you and your forefathers swore by?
I’m not puzzled by what brings about acute forced conversions. The threat of imprisonment, beatings, torture, rape, outcast status, and/or burdensome religious taxes ought to do it. But I don’t follow why the imposed religion ultimately takes hold, often within a generation. Virtually none of the African people who were captured and brought to North America as slaves were originally Christians. But they soon internalized forced Christianity to such an extent that, in the United States, they became regarded as exemplars of piety. Later, in our time, it emerged that
African-Americans are markedly more religious [that is, Christian] on a variety of measures than the U.S. population as a whole, including level of affiliation with a religion, attendance at religious services, frequency of prayer, and religion’s importance in life.
It would be wonderful if forced conversions were futile because people’s deeply-held religious beliefs (or the absence of any god belief at all) are impervious to brutal coercion. But chances are good that the Yazidis in this ISIS video, who are filmed as they are forced to swear loyalty to Islam (skip to 5:56), will be faithful Muslims in a dozen years or fewer. Their children almost certainly will be, if ISIS isn’t beaten back.