Italy’s most prominent Muslim commentator, a journalist with iconoclastic views such as support for Israel, converted to Roman Catholicism Saturday when the pope baptized him at an Easter service.
As a choir sang, Pope Benedict XVI poured holy water over Magdi Allam’s head and said a brief prayer in Latin.
“We no longer stand alongside or in opposition to one another,” Benedict said in a homily reflecting on the meaning of baptism. “Thus faith is a force for peace and reconciliation in the world: distances between people are overcome, in the Lord we have become close.”
Vatican television zoomed in on Allam, who sat in the front row of the basilica along with six other candidates for baptism. Allam later received his first Communion.
An Egyptian-born, non-practicing Muslim who is married to a Catholic, Allam often writes on Muslim and Arab affairs and has infuriated some Muslims with his criticism of extremism and support for the Jewish state.
OK, so he’s a “non-practicing Muslim” and a critic of the jihadists, who will doubtless target him for apostasy and the pope for performing the baptism. Still, this reminds us of the ultimate answer to the jihadists: not war but evangelism.