March 23, 2008, - 12:30 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
I love the story of Magdi Allam, the pro-Israel, anti-HAMAS, non-practicing Muslim, who, today, was converted by the Pope to Catholicism. He represents the fact that the only “moderate” Muslims are non-practicing ones and former ones.
Magdi Allam is brave, indeed, as his life has already been in danger for his courageous views, but now, he’s become the ultimate apostate, converting away from Islam at the hands of the Pope and in a publicly broadcast ceremony:
Italy’s most prominent Muslim, an iconoclastic writer who condemned Islamic extremism and defended Israel, converted to Catholicism Saturday in a baptism by the pope at a Vatican Easter service.
An Egyptian-born, non-practicing Muslim who is married to a Catholic, Magdi Allam infuriated some Muslims with his books and columns in the newspaper Corriere della Sera newspaper, where he is a deputy editor. He titled one book “Long Live Israel.”
As a choir sang, Pope Benedict XVI poured holy water over Allam’s head and said a brief prayer in Latin. . . .
Vatican Television zoomed in on Allam, who sat in the front row of the basilica along with six other candidates for baptism. He later received his first Communion.
Allam, 55, told the newspaper Il Giornale in a December interview that his criticism of Palestinian suicide bombing provoked threats on his life in 2003, prompting the Italian government to provide him with a sizable security detail. . . .
Allam, who has a young son with his Catholic wife and two adult children from a previous relationship, indicated in the Il Giornale interview that he would have no problem converting to Christianity. He said he had even received Communion once – when he was 13 or 14 – “even though I knew it was an act of blasphemy, not having been baptized.”
He did not speak to the press Saturday and his newspaper said it had no information about his conversion.
Allam said in the interview that he had made a pilgrimage to Mecca, as is required of all Muslims, with his deeply religious mother in 1991, although he was not otherwise observant.
“I was never practicing,” he was quoted as saying. “I never prayed five times a day, facing Mecca. I never fasted during Ramadan.”
Allam also explained his decision to title a recent book “Viva Israele” by saying he wrote it after he received death threats from Hamas.
“Having been condemned to death, I have reflected a long time on the value of life. And I discovered that behind the origin of the ideology of hatred, violence and death is the discrimination against Israel. Everyone has the right to exist except for the Jewish state and its inhabitants,” he said. “Today, Israel is the paradigm of the right to life.”
In 2006, Allam was a co-winner, with three other journalists, of the $1 million Dan David prize, named for an Israeli entrepreneur. Allam was cited for “his ceaseless work in fostering understanding and tolerance between cultures.”
Sadly, he is among the infinitesmally tiny fraction of Muslims who think this way. And like I said, he epitomizes that this tiny fraction is either non-practicing and completely assimilated or converted away, as he has just now become.
Congrats to Mr. Allam, and may more of your former fellow co-religionists join you in ideology and faith.
Tags: Corriere della Sera, Debbie Schlussel, deputy editor, Easter, Easter Sunday, entrepreneur, Hamas, head, iconoclastic writer, Il Giornale, Israel, Italian government, Italy, Magdi Allam, Mecca, Prominent Muslim, Ramadan, the Il Giornale, USD, Vatican Television