Muslim Baptized by Pope Says Life in Great Danger

A popular Muslim author who was baptized by Pope Benedict XVI Saturday night said that his life is now in great danger because of his conversion to Catholicism.

"I realize what I am going up against but I will confront my fate with my head high, with my back straight and the interior strength of one who is certain about his faith," said Magdi Allam, formerly Italy's most prominent Muslim, according to Reuters.

The 55-year-old Egyptian born writer wrote in the Sunday's edition of Corriere della Sera – the leading Italian newspaper with which he is a deputy director – that "…the root of evil is innate in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual."

He said before converting he had continuously asked himself why a person who advocates for "moderate Islam" was "condemned to death in the name of Islam and on the basis of a Koranic legitimization."

The newly baptized Christian, who is a strong supporter of Israel, has lived under police protection for his criticism of radical Islam, particularly after he criticized Iran's position on Israel.

Allam, who was a secular Muslim married to a Catholic, was baptized during the Easter eve service in St. Peter's Basilica that was broadcasted around the world. He said his conversion was the "happiest day of my life."

He also understands that his conversion would likely make him the target of "another death sentence or apostasy," or the abandoning of his faith. But he said he is willing to risk his life because he has "finally seen the light, thanks to divine grace."

In 2006, the former Muslim defended the pope's remarks about Islam and violence in his speech given in Regensburg, Germany.

Allam said he would take the name "Cristiano" – Italian for Christian – as his new middle name.