Egyptian-born commentator baptized by pope in high-profile conversion enters Italian politics
ROME (AP) _ An Egyptian-born writer who renounced Islam and was baptized by Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that he has formed a political party that would enter candidates in next year's EU elections.
Magdi Cristiano Allam said his "Protagonists for Christian Europe" party would work to defend Europe's Christian values, which he sees threatened by secularism and moral relativism. He said his new party would be open to people of all faiths and would be close to the conservative European People's Party.
Allam built his career in Italy as commentator and book author attacking Islamic extremism and supporting Israel.
In March, Allam angered some in the Muslim world with a high-profile conversion during an Easter vigil service led by the pope in St. Peter's Basilica.
Allam, who took the name Cristiano upon converting, has credited Benedict with being instrumental in his decision to become a Catholic and has said the pope had baptized him to support freedom of religion.
The 56-year-old Allam has lived most of his adult life in Italy, becoming a citizen in 1986. In recent years he was given a police escort after receiving death threats from radical Islamic groups.
While working to encourage tolerance between cultures he has also grown increasingly critical of his former faith.
He said in leading daily Corriere della Sera, where he has worked as deputy editor, that the "root of evil is inherent in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual."
By Associated Press
Nov. 30, 2008
Nov. 30, 2008