Sunday, March 23, 2008

Former Muslin and Islamic Radical Critic Letter On why He Converted to the Catholic Faith

A godd bit of the world is familiar by now with the pretty famous Convert the Pope Baptized last night at the Easter Vigil. Here is a an overview.

He is an deputy editor editor at the very respected Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper. There is quite a bit of coverage in that paper of course of this event. Of interest is a letter that the now new named Christian Magdi Allam. has written that is receiving some play on the news wires. The Italian version is here.

I have been waiting for a full English translation but have not seen it yet. However I was pleasantly surprised that "google translate" seems to have given a good translations of the letter to English. There is still some "bumps" as to some words and sentence structure but one can very well get the gist. If I find a better translation I will post that the link to that here.

I was very struck how sincre he was and he that he did not just seem to see this as a "political act" but an result of an encounter of Christ.

Update- The Ratzinger Forum translated the above piece in a more clearer way than google translate did. HEre it is :
Dear Editor,
What I am about to say concerns my choice of religious faith and my personal life which I wish in no way to involve Corriere della Sera which has honored me since 2003 by naming me as a deputy editor ad personam.

So I write you as a private citizen who is a protagonist in this event. Last night, I converted to the Roman Catholic religion, renouncing my previous Islamic faith. Thus, through divine grace, the healthy and mature fruit of a long gestation lived in suffering and in joy has seen the light.

I am particularly grateful to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, who bestowed on me the sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist - at St. Peter's Basilica during the solemn celebration of the Easter Vigil. I have taken on the simplest and most explicit Christian name: Cristiano.

From last night, then, my name is now Magdi Cristiano Allam. It was for me the most beautiful day of my life. To acquire the gift of Christian faith on the commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ through the hands of the Holy Father is, for a believer, an unequalled privilege and an invaluable good.

At nearly age 56, in my own small world, it is a historic, exceptional and unforgettable fact, which marks a radical and definitive chamge from my past. The miracle of Christ's Resurrection has reverberated in my soul and freed it from the shadows of a preaching where hate and intolerance towards anything 'different' - a-critically condemned as an 'enemy' - prevails over love and respect for one's 'neighbor' who is always and nonetheless a human being. Likewise, my mind has been liberated from the obscurantism of an ideology that legitimizes lies and deceit, violent death through homicide and suicide, and blind submission to tyranny, allowing me to profess the authentic religion of Truth, Life and Freedom.

On my first Easter as a Christian, I have not only discovered Jesus, but for the first time, the one true God, who is the God of Faith and Reason. My conversion to Catholicism is the final destination of a gradual and profound interior meditation, which was unavoidable, considering that for five years, I have been forced to live an 'armored' life, with permanent police vigilance of my home and an escort of carabinieri everywhere I go, after the threats and death condemnations inflicted on me by Islamic extremists and terrorists, fromt hose based in Italy as well as those who are active in other countries.

I have had to question the attitude of those who have publicly issued fatwas against me, of Islamic juridical judgments denouncing me - a Muslim then - as 'an enemy of Islam', 'a hypocrite because he is an Egyptian Copt who pretends to be Muslim in order to damage Islam', 'a liar and defamer of Islam' - legitimizing in this way my being condemned to death. I have asked myself how it was possible that anyone who, like me, had fought strenuously with conviction for a 'moderate Islam' - exposing myself directly to denunciation by Islamic extremists and terrorists - ended up condemned to death in the name of Islam and on the basis of a Koranic justification.

I therefore had to acknowledge that beyond the contingencies that have resulted in the phenomenon of Islamic extremism and terrorism having the upper hand on a world scale, the root of the evil is within an Islam that is constitutionally violent and historically conflictual. At the same time, Providence made me encounter practising Catholics of good will who, by virtue of their personal eexample and their friendship, gradually became a reference point for me on the certainty of truth and the solidity of certain values - starting with so many friends in Comunione e Liberazione, led by Don Julian Carron; religious like Fr. Gabriele Mangiarotti, Suor Maria Glorai Riva, Fr. Carlo Maurizi and Fr. Yohannis Lahzi Gaid; my rediscovery of Salesians, thanks to Frs. Angelo Tengattini and Maurizio Verlezza, culminiting in a renewed friendship with the rector-general, Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva; and the welcoming embrace of other prelates of great humanity like Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Monsignors. Luigi Negri, Giancarlo Vecerrrica and Gino Romanazzi, but especially, Mons. Rino Fisichella, who personally led me through the spiritual itinerary of acceptance into the Christian faith.

But undoubtedly the most extraordinary and significant encounter in my decision to be converted was that with Pope Benedict XVI, whom I admired and defended as a Muslim for his expert skill in showing the indissoluble link between faith and reason as the foundation for authentic religion and human civilization, and to whom I fully adhere as a Christian to inspire me with new light in carrying on any mission that God may have for me. Dear Editor, you have asked me if I do not fear for my life, knowing that converting to Christianity will certainly earn for me yet another - and far more serious - death condemnation for apostasy.

You are right. I know what I am facing, but I will face my destiny with head held high, with my spine erect, and with the interior solidity of someone who is sure of his fatih. And I will do so even more, after the historic and courageous action of the Pope who, from the moment he learned about my desire to convert, immediately decided to impart personally on myself the sacraments of initiation to Christianity. His Holiness has sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church which until now, has been too prudent about converting Muslims, abstaining from proselytizing in countries with Muslim majorities, and keeping quiet about converts living in Christian nations. And all this out of fear.

The fear of not being able to protect converts in the face of their condemnation by Islam to death for apostasy, and the fear of reprisals aganst Christian residents in Muslim nations. Now, Benedict XVI is telling us by his action that fear must be conquered and that we should not be afraid to affirm the truth of Jesus even with Muslims. On my part, I say it is time to put an end to the arbitrary will and violence of those Muslims who do not respect freedom of religious choice. In Italy, there are thousands of converts to Islam who live their new faith in all tranquillity. But there are also thousands of Muslims who have converted to Christianity who are forced to hide their new faith for fear of being assassinated by Muslim extremists who are settled in our midst.

In one of those instances which evoke the discreet hand of the Lord, the first article I wrote for Corriere in September 2003 was entitled "The new catacombs of converts from Islam" . It was an inquiry about some new Christians in Italy who spoke out against their profound spiritual and human loneliness because of the failure of the institutions of the State to protect their security and because of the silence of the Church. I therefore hope that the Pope's historic gesture and my personal testimony can convince them that the time has come to leave the shadows of the catacombs and to publicly affirm their will to be who they are.

If we cannot do this in Italy, cradle of Catholicism, our own home - to guarantee full religious freedom to everyone, how can we be credible when we denounce violations of such freedom anywhere in the world? I pray to God that this special Easter may give the resurrection of the spirit to all the faithful in Christ who up to now have been subjugated by fear.
23 March 2008


Cajun Huguenot said...

This good news and this is a brave man. Certainly the radical Muslims will certainly try to kill him for his conversion to the Christian faith.


James H said...

I think it is. THe situation in Italy is getting silly with intimidation. Just look at Holland

Anonymous said...

May GOD bless and protect him.