Monday, March 24, 2008

A Provocative Baptism

Magdi Allam is a prominent Egyptian-Italian journalist who converted to Christianity and was baptized by the pope in a ceremony during an Easter mass in the Vatican.

Since he was born into Islam, Mr. Allam’s conversion makes him an official apostate, and thus subject to a sentence of death. His is a dramatic act of great symbolic import, much more effective than a thousand anti-jihad books or a million turban bomb cartoons.

By this Easter ritual Pope Benedict XVI has done a great service to the cause. It makes it easier to overlook some of his public statements about the Motoons — not to mention the stated positions of his subordinates in the Vatican hierarchy.

The significance of the occasion was not lost on the Islamic world. Here’s the latest from Reuters:

The Easter baptism of an Italian Muslim by Pope Benedict was a provocative act that raises questions about the Vatican’s approach to Islam, a leading participant in Christian-Muslim dialogue said on Monday.

Aref Ali Nayed, a key figure in a group of over 200 Muslim scholars launching discussion forums with Christian groups, said the Vatican had turned the baptism of Egyptian-born journalist Magdi Allam into “a triumphalist tool for scoring points.”

“A triumphalist tool for scoring points”? What do you call the beheading of infidels? How triumphal are the pronouncements that emerge from Tehran, or Cairo, or Riyadh?

He said the Vatican should distance itself from a searing attack on Islam that Allam published on Sunday in the Milan daily Corriere della Sera, where he is deputy director.

Why should it do that? What Catholic knows the truth about Islam better than an ex-Muslim?

Commentators in Algeria and Morocco echoed Nayed’s view, saying Allam’s conversion was a personal affair but his attacks on Islam and his headline-grabbing baptism by the pope strained relations between Muslims and the Catholic Church.

“The whole spectacle… provokes genuine questions about the motives, intentions and plans of some of the pope’s advisers on Islam,” Nayed, who is director of the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, said in a statement.

Translation: “We had the Church nicely softened up, almost ready for full dhimmitude. It’s time to whip the Vatican back into line.”
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“Nevertheless, we will not let this unfortunate episode distract us from our work on pursuing ‘A Common Word’ for the sake of humanity and world peace. Our basis for dialogue is not a tit-for-tat logic of reciprocity.”

Nayed was one of 138 Muslim scholars who last October issued an unprecedented appeal entitled “A Common Word” that urged a serious dialogue between Christians and Muslims on the basis of the shared values of love of God and neighbor. Dozens more scholars have since signed the appeal.

Protestant churches have mostly reacted in a positive way, but the Roman Catholic Church — which accounts for more than half of the world’s two billion Christians — has been hesitant and agreed to dialogue only after some delay.

Ah, yes: “A Common Word”. This is the latest ecumenical effort initiated by Islamic front groups and aimed at Christianity. It contains all the peace-love-’n’-justice boilerplate that’s guaranteed to hook the soft-brained leaders of the mainstream Protestant churches. The Vatican is obviously made of sterner stuff, and not only held out longer, but prepared a below-the-waterline shot against Islam in the meantime.

Read through the text and scriptural citations at the Common Word site. You’ll notice the standard set of “good” Koran quotations can be found there — “no compulsion in religion”, etc.

But for those who are familiar with strict Islamic doctrine, and also with the standard taqiyya used to slip it under our radar, there is this:

Clearly, the blessed words: we shall ascribe no partner unto Him relate to the Unity of God. Clearly also, worshipping none but God, relates to being totally devoted to God and hence to the First and Greatest Commandment.


As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them — so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion…

The first section quoted is the one that ultimately requires a Christian to reject the doctrine of the Trinity. It is routinely used in Islamic theology to demonstrate that Christianity is in fact a polytheistic heresy. There will be no “common word” between the religions until the Trinity is repudiated.

The second section conceals the fact that to a Muslim any criticism or mockery consists of “waging war against Muslims on account of their religion”. The Motoon crisis and the uproar over Fitna illustrate this issue perfectly. If you mock the Prophet, then Islam is against you, and may wage war on you. In fact, the Koran obligates Muslims to fight until you are either killed or submit to the rule of the Ummah.

The Reuters article continues:

Mohamed Yatim, commentator for the Moroccan daily Attajdid, called the high-profile baptism “a new provocation for the Islamic world and part of a trend that has intensified in recent years with the caricatures of the Prophet.”


In Algeria, deputy editor Mahmoud Belhimer of the popular El Khabar newspaper said Allam’s conversion “could have been normal if he had not made anti-Islamic comments.”

“Normal” means that he must never, ever offer any criticism of the religion he left behind.

The Saudi daily al-Watan reported the baptism on its front page and described Allam as someone who “worked tirelessly to attack Islam” and was close to pro-Israel groups.

This is the cardinal sin for this new infidel: support for Israel. Baptism is one thing, but allying with the Zionist apes and pigs? How could he?

And there are the usual Christian dhimmis just aching to submit:

Rev. Christophe Roucou, the French Catholic Church’s top official for relations with Islam, also questioned the publicity surrounding Allam’s conversion. “I don’t understand why he wasn’t baptized in his hometown by his local bishop,” he said.

Magdi Allam, needless to say, is afraid for his life. Today’s Corriere della Sera (his own newspaper) has this to say:

An outspoken muslim author and critic of Islamic fundamentalism who converted to Christianity at the hands of Pope Benedict said on Sunday he realised he was in greater danger but he has no regrets.

“I realise 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. The conversion of Allam to Christianity — he took the name “Christian” for his baptism — was kept secret until the Vatican disclosed it in a statement less than an hour before it began.

Writing in Sunday’s edition of the leading Corriere della Sera, the newspaper of which he is a deputy director, Allam said: “… the root of evil is innate in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual”. Allam, who is a strong supporter of Israel and who an Israeli newspaper once called a “Muslim Zionist,” has lived under police protection following threats against him, particularly after he criticised Iran’s position on Israel.

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. The Vatican appeared to be at pains to head off criticism from the Islamic world about the conversion. “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. Still, Allam’s highly public baptism by the pope shocked Italy’s Muslim community, with some leaders openly questioning why the Vatican chose to shine such a big spotlight it.

“What amazes me is the high profile the Vatican has given this conversion,” Yaha Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, vice-president of the Italian Islamic Religious Community, told Reuters. “Why could he have not done this in his local parish?”

Once again, the arrogance and audacity of Muslims knows no bounds. What right has Mr. Pallavicini or any other Muslim to question where and how Christians welcome converts to their faith? What Christian second-guesses the process by which people convert to Islam?

As usual, Islam is special, and gets to write its own rules for what everyone else does, Muslims or otherwise.

Allam, the author of numerous books, said he realised 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”. Allam defended the pope in 2006 when the pontiff made a speech in Regensburg, Germany, that many Muslims perceived as depicting Islam as a violent faith. He said he made his decision after years of deep soul searching and asserted that the Catholic Church has been “too prudent about conversions of Muslims”.

Islam’s responses over the next few months to various tender topics — the Motoons, Fitna, and Mr. Allam’s conversion — will tell us something about how violent a faith it is.

If the people who take to the streets to burn and kill are not “true Muslims”, then how many true Muslims are there?

If you subtract the violent heresiarchs, then how many out of the 1.4 billion are left?

Just asking.

Hat tips: TB and insubria.


spackle said...

"The Easter baptism of an Italian Muslim by Pope Benedict was a provocative act that raises questions about the Vatican’s approach to Islam, a leading participant in Christian-Muslim dialogue said on Monday."


Athos said...

Since Bin Laden accused the Pope of having a hand in the Motoon conflicts, and in light of the talks with the "138 Muslim scholars" it seems to me that Benedict XVI has in his way wanted to make it clear that the Church won't buckle to untruth, threats, and cloaked dhimmitude. Bravo

laine said...

Islam is a one way door. They solicit converts constantly and welcome anyone in, even hard core prisoners who do not have to regret or renounce their crimes to follow Allah. Probably the more crimes, the better fit to Mohammed himself.

But it is a steel trap with no safe way out. The threat of death for apostasy looms, as any one of countless devout Muslims may take it into his head to gain Brownie points with Allah by killing someone who dares reject him.

Is there any other religion that requires so much killing to satisfy a blood-thirsty god's honor?

Francis W. Porretto said...

Benedict XVI has conducted himself in a fashion to place his name among the greatest of Pontiffs, and also at the head of the leaders of our time.

Geert Wilders.
Robert Spencer.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI.

We cannot do without these men. May God watch over them all.

Athos said...

Laine asked: Is there any other religion that requires so much killing to satisfy a blood-thirsty god's honor?

Check out René Girard's books sometime, Laine: Violence and the Sacred; The Scapegoat; Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, etc.

Islam is the entree for what Girard calls "the primitive Sacred" which by definition calls for human sacrifice, and which the biblical deity has always been trying to call the human race away from.

Today's neopagan resurgence in the West is the other expression of the primitive Sacred under the disguise of the progressive Left: ostensibly "peace loving," but demanding the abortion mills to keep sacrificing unborn innocent victims to a modern-day Moloch.

These two expressions of the primitive Sacred -- Islam and neopaganism within the West -- are a two-pronged enemy facing truth, goodness, and beauty of western civilization.

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Ratzinger again.

Unlike Regensburg, it is hard to see him apologizing for this in any way, shape, or form (were the apologies post Regensburg merely a tactical retreat?).

I am so waiting now to see Fitna and then watch the Islamoids go totally ape.

Bring popcorn, but keep the shotgun handy.

Joanne said...

In the Muslim religion, children born to Muslims are automatically Muslim....definitely from the father's line, not sure about the mother's line. Really, what kind of religion has to recruit members before they are even born. Talk about having no freedom right from the first day of birth.

The Roman Catholic Crusades made mincemeat of Muslims when they retaliated against the Muslim Crusades; I don't think the Pope really worries about the opinions of Muslims with Germany and the EU watching their back.

Dennis Mahon said...

Watching the Vatican is truly an exercise in observing wild contradictions.

On the one hand, we have the Al-Azhar Committee Final Declaration, which is closer to the initial news reports than one would have hoped (

On the other, we have this high-profile conversion and baptism by Pope Benedict XVI of an out-spoken critic of Islam.

It does appear that the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing.

Kafir_Kelbeh said...

From now on, he shall be known as Christian Allam. Bless him and Benedict for their courage and conviction!

Ron Kilmartin said...

Here is a somewhat lighter analysis:

Dymphna said...

Dennis Mahon---

Thanks for the link. I wrote about the Vaticna meeting with this Cairo group back in February but couldn't find good info on its history, propriety, etc.

*Now* I find out!
Is the Vatican Naïve or Merely without Humor?

Think of the Vatican as having more than two hands, so that many of them don't know what the others are doing...such is the danger of bureaucracies.