Pope baptises Muslim writer
The Pope has continued to emphasise the distance between Roman Catholicism and the Islamic world by baptising a Muslim journalist who describes Islam as intrinsically violent and characterised by ‘hate and intolerance’.
In a surprise move at the Easter vigil at St Peter’s, Pope Benedict XVI baptised Magdi Allam, 55, an outspoken Egyptian-born critic of Islamic extremism and supporter of Israel. Mr Allam has been under police protection for five years after receiving death threats over his criticism of suicide-bombings.
Mr Allam’s conversion was kept secret until less than an hour before the service on Saturday evening. He took the middle name ‘Christian’ for his baptism.
In an article for Corriere della Sera – the Italian newspaper of which he is a deputy editor – Mr Allam, who has lived in Italy most of his adult life and has a Catholic wife, said his soul had been: ‘liberated from the obscurantism of an ideology which legitimises lies and dissimulation, violent death which induces both murder and suicide, and blind submission to tyranny’.