.- Magdi Allam, the Christian convert from Islam who was baptized by Pope Benedict XVI at an Easter service in April, has reacted to Islamist death threats posted on a web site said to be close to al-Qaeda. He has expressed particular concern that the writers of the threatening messages may be Italian.
Allam, an Egyptian-born writer and deputy editor of Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, has been a controversial figure in Italy for his regular critiques of Islam. In fact, in his book âLong Live Israel,â Allam wrote âthe root of evil is innate in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual.â
His conversion to Catholicism prompted angry responses from Muslim clerics and academics in Italy and the Middle East.
Recent threats on a web site targeted both Allam and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. âThey are two dead men walkingâ¦ just like Falconeâ¦â one threat said, comparing both men to an anti-Mafia judge who was assassinated in a 1992 bombing.
"I find it extremely worrying that today we can find internet sites, full of al-Qaeda-inspired thought in the Italian language, giving support to Bin Laden's terrorism,â Allam said in an interview with Adnkronos International. âI find this serious because the writers of these sites are most likely Italians.â
He said those making the threats seemed to be Italians who have converted to Islam or Muslim immigrants who have been âItalianized.â
Allam argued the incident means Italy has reached âa higher and more advanced phase of Islamic terrorism, radicalism and extremism,â similar to what he says has occurred in Great Britain, France, Holland, Germany and Belgium. He said he was worried about a âlack of awareness about the seriousness of these developments,â which he said were âhighly dangerous to national security and stability.â
Allam said Italy should be in a high state of alertness because the extremists are Italian citizens âwho could be our neighborsâ and are easily ignored until there is a âtragic accident which forces us to open our eyes.â