Muslim baptized by pope says life in danger
“Conversion is a private matter, a personal thing and we hope that the baptism will not be interpreted negatively by Islam,”
By Philip Pullella
March 23, 2008 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.
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.”
His conversion, which he called “the happiest day of my life,” came just two days after al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden accused the pope of being part of a “new crusade” against Islam.
“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.
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.”