Herald Sun, Port Melbourne (Victoria), March 23, 2008
ITALIAN editor and critic of Islamic extremism Magdi Allam, who converted to Catholicism from Islam and was baptised by Pope Benedict XVI, today branded his former faith as intrinsically violent.
“I had to do this (abandon Islam)”, Allam wrote in a long letter to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
“Beyond . . . the phenomenon of extremists and Islamist terrorism at the global level, the root of evil is inherent to a physiologically violent and historically conflictual Islam,” wrote the Egyptian-born journalist, who says he has received death threats and is under police protection.
One of seven adults baptised during an Easter vigil yesterday evening, Allam, 55, is an editorial writer and deputy editor at Corriere.
Regarding a combative tone that has made him famous in Italy, Allam wrote: “Over the years my spirit has been freed from the obscurantism of an ideology that legitimises lies and deception, violent death that leads to homicide and suicide, blind submission to tyranny.”
He described Catholicism as “an authentic religion of Truth, Life and Freedom”.
By baptising Allam in the public ceremony, the Pope “sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a church that until now has been too cautious in the conversion of Muslims . . . because of the fear of being unable to protect the converted who are condemned to death for apostasy,” Allam said.
“Thousands of people in Italy have converted to Islam and practise their faith serenely,” he wrote.
“But there are also thousands of Muslims who have converted to Christianity who are forced to hide their new faith out of fear of being killed by Islamist terrorists.”
Allam adopted the Christian name of Cristiano (Christian), not a common name in Italy.
Allam, who has been outspoken about the conflict in the Middle East, in 2006 organised a demonstration in Rome in support of Christians in the Muslim world.