No surprise there. More on Magdi Allam’s conversion, in a story by Philip Pullella for Reuters (thanks to John):
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – A Muslim author and critic of Islamic fundamentalism who was baptized a Catholic by Pope Benedict said on Sunday Islam is “physiologically violent” and he is now in great danger because of his conversion.
“I realize what I am going up against but I will confront my fate with my head high, with my back straight and the interior strength of one who is certain about his faith,” said Magdi Allam.
In a surprise move on Saturday night, the pope baptized the 55-year-old, Egyptian-born Allam at an Easter eve service in St Peter’s Basilica that was broadcast around the world.
The conversion of Allam to Christianity — he took the name “Christian” for his baptism — was kept secret until the Vatican disclosed it in a statement less than an hour before it began.
Writing in Sunday’s edition of the leading Corriere della Sera, the newspaper of which he is a deputy director, Allam said: “… the root of evil is innate in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual.”
Allam, who is a strong supporter of Israel and who an Israeli newspaper once called a “Muslim Zionist,” has lived under police protection following threats against him, particularly after he criticized Iran’s position on Israel.
He said before converting he had continually asked himself why someone who had struggled for what he called “moderate Islam” was then “condemned to death in the name of Islam and on the basis of a Koranic legitimization.” […]
A telling question.
The Vatican appeared to be at pains to head off criticism from the Islamic world about the conversion.
“Conversion is a private matter, a personal thing and we hope that the baptism will not be interpreted negatively by Islam,” Cardinal Giovanni Re told an Italian newspaper.
Still, Allam’s highly public baptism by the pope shocked Italy’s Muslim community, with some leaders openly questioning why the Vatican chose to shine such a big spotlight it.
“What amazes me is the high profile the Vatican has given this conversion,” Yaha Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, vice-president of the Italian Islamic Religious Community, told Reuters. “Why could he have not done this in his local parish?”
Why indeed? But the same question can be turned around: Magdi Allam is an internationally famous journalist. Why, then, shouldn’t his conversion be high-profile? That Pallavicini would prefer it hidden away suggests that he carries in his mental baggage the Sharia-based assumption that Christians should be quiet and submissive, private and unostentatious in their religious observances, so as to avoid offend the delicate sensibilities of Muslims.
But they are now likely to be very, very offended:
ANOTHER DEATH SENTENCE
Allam, the author of numerous books, said he realized that his conversion would likely procure him “another death sentence for apostasy,” or the abandoning of one’s faith.
But he said he was willing to risk it because he had “finally seen the light, thanks to divine grace.”
Allam defended the pope in 2006 when the pontiff made a speech in Regensburg, Germany, that many Muslims perceived as depicting Islam as a violent faith.
He said he made his decision to convert after years of deep soul searching and asserted that the Catholic Church has been “too prudent about conversions of Muslims.”…