Pope Baptizes Muslim Convert

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CBNNews.com - Italian journalist Magdi Allam's conversion from Islam to Catholicism was a highlight of the Vatican's Easter service, with Pope Benedict XVI himself officiating in his baptism.

The Egyptian-born Allam, who serves as deputy editor of the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, has been an outspoken supporter of Israel and a critic of Islamic terrorism.

The 55-year-old author received death threats in 2003 after condemning Palestinian suicide bombing, prompting him to write a book entitled Viva Israele (Long Live Israel).

In 2006, Allam and three other journalists shared the $1 million Dan David Prize for his "ceaseless work in fostering understanding and tolerance between cultures."

In a 2006 interview with The Jerusalem Post, Allam said Hamas was unlikely to change its anti-Israel ideology.

"They simply want to destroy Israel and that's all," Allam said. "That's why there's no point in talking to them," he said.

Allam also defined what Hamas means by a hudna (temporary cease-fire).

"It [a hudna] is actually saying that it doesn't recognize Israel' right to exist," Allam explained. "It is not talking at all about peace and a just and permanent solution, as we all want for the sake of the two peoples," he said.

"[A hudna] does not mean recognition of the other side and its right to exist. It only means winning some time to prepare for achieving what they really want," he said.

"When we examine Hamas' ambitions, we see that its constitution calls for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic state based on Shari'a [Islamic religious] law. I don't believe we can allow Hamas to reach its goal because this means the destruction of Israel," he said.

"And it would also harm the Palestinians themselves. Hamas' strategy won't lead the Palestinians to statehood and peace based on coexistence alongside Israel," he said.

"There is no alternative to peace between Israel and the Palestinians…The solution begins by recognizing Israel's right to exist...The biggest obstacle to peace and coexistence is Palestinian terrorism that seeks to destroy Israel. Terrorism harms not only Israel, but the Palestinians as well," said Allam.

In the interview with the Post, Allam described Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "the new Adoph Hitler and the head of a Nazi Islamic regime. He is a threat not only to Israel, but to Arab countries, especially in the Gulf," Allam said.

"Iran is a real threat that should be dealt with instantly. We must stop this made regime. If all the diplomatic initiatives fail to convince Iran to abandon its efforts to obtain the nuclear bomb, there will be no other choice but to launch a military strike," he said.

"[Israel] must stick to its principles because this is the only way to guarantee its right to exist," said Allam.

Allam and his wife, who is Catholic, have one young son.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, israel insider

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