Prominent Italian Muslim Baptized by Pope
Convert Takes Big Step at Vatican During Easter Vigil
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2008 6:30 AM CDT
Pope Benedict XVI looks at the cross during the Easter vigil mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
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(Newser) – Italy's best-known commentator on Islam converted to Catholicism yesterday at the Vatican, during Easter vigil, and was baptized by the Pope himself, the AP reports. Though Magdi Allam was born a Muslim, he said he "never" practiced his native religion, and made his name criticizing Islamic fanaticism, receiving death threats in the process.

He also admits to taking communion as a teenager, even though Allam says he "knew it was an act of blasphemy.” The rituals of the Church aren’t entirely new to Allam, who is married to a Catholic. The very public conversion received a muted response from Italy’s Muslim community. “He is an adult, free to make his personal choice,” said a spokesman for one group.