It's been quite a wonderful Holy Week. Tonight at the Easter Vigil mass, during which churches welcome adults who have converted to Catholicism, Pope Benedict baptized seven people, including writer Magdi Allam. Wow.
"Italy's most prominent Muslim commentator converted to Roman Catholicism on Saturday during the Vatican's Easter vigil service presided over by the pope."
"An Egyptian-born, non-practicing Muslim, Magdi Allam has infuriated some fellow Muslims with his criticism of extremism and support for Israel. The deputy editor of the Corriere della Sera newspaper, Allam often writes on Muslim and Arab affairs."
"....In the Il Giornale interview, Allam explained his complicated relationship with Islam and his affinity for Israel. 'I was never practicing,' he was quoted as saying. 'I never prayed five times a day, facing Mecca. I never fasted during Ramadan.' Yet he said he did make the pilgrimage to Mecca, as is required of all Muslims, with his deeply religious mother in 1991."
"Allam also explained his decision to entitle a recent book Viva Israel or Long Live Israel, 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.' "
Robert Spencer discusses Magdi Allam's conversion and apostasy here.
The AP article quoted a major Islamic cleric on apostasy:
"Egypt's highest Islamic cleric, the Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, wrote last year against the killing of apostates, saying there is no worldly retribution for Muslims who abandon their religion and that punishment would come in the afterlife."
As Spencer noted, that's unfortunately not true:
"Cairo: Egypt's top cleric yesterday denied in a statement that he had said a Muslim can give up his faith without punishment."
"Ali Goma'a, the mufti of Egypt, was quoted as saying in a posting on a Washington Post-Newsweek forum that Muslims are free to change their faith and this is a matter between an individual and God."
" 'What I actually said is that Islam prohibits a Muslim from changing his religion and that apostasy is a crime, which must be punished,' Goma'a said."
May God bless Magdi Allam and keep him safe. Ditto for Papa Ratzi.