I påskevigilien/ midnattsmessen i Peterskirken døpte pave Benedikt Magdi Allam, en av de mest kjente (tidligere) muslimene i Italia, som etter Oriana Fallacis død er blitt den mest framstående kritikeren av muslimsk radikalisme/ fundamentalisme.
Magdi Allam, a columnist and vice-director of Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, is among seven new Catholics from five countries to be personally baptized by the pope during the Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Particularly in the wake of recent charges by terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden that Benedict XVI is leading a “new crusade” against Islam, the reception of such a high-profile Muslim convert during the holiest period of the Christian year could further inflame Catholic/Muslim tensions.
A spokesperson for Italy’s Muslim community, Yahya Pallavicini, said that he “respects the free choice” made by Allam, but voiced “perplexity” about the timing and the decision to receive Allam in a place “of such great symbolic importance.”
On the other hand, the choice to baptize Allam during the Easter vigil could also be read as a sign of determination from Benedict, that he will not be intimidated by implied threats such as those voiced in bin Laden’s recent audiotape.