New ”Salman Rushdie” in Italy?

Published July 31st, 2007 - 10:34 GMT

The Union of Islamic Communities in Italy has urged all Muslims across the country to express their views following a new book which hails Israel and slams Palestinian resistance groups. According to a Saudi newspaper, the leaders of the Islamic community in Italy are furious about the new book which amazingly was edited by an Egyptian-born Italian writer and journalist!


Magdi Allam, 55, deputy chief editor of Italy’s most influential newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, is again at the center of the storm following his seventh book, dubbed “Viva Israele” (Long Live Israel). The subtitle of the book reads “From the ideology of death to the civilization of life: my story.”


“Long Live Israel” is the tale of his life ever since his youth under the republican regime of late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.


According to Allam, Nasser is responsible for having turned Egypt - and the rest of the Arab world - into the cradle of the "ideology of death". Allam claims Nasser brought about an aggressive pan-Arabic dream based on the denial of Israel’s right to exist.  The need for the destruction of Israel is the dominant theme that, Allam states, made death and destruction the core values of a once liberal Islamic culture.


Thus, the new book defends the existence of Israel and terms armed Palestinian groups as "dangerous terrorist threats." In addition, Allam wrote that during their operations in the Palestinian territories, Israeli forces have been trying to avoid hitting Palestinian civilians and only aim to defend Israeli citizens….


Furthermore, Allam added that the main cause for the Israeli – Palestinian dispute stems form the Palestinian terror.


Allam says that "Israel - along with Pope Benedict XVI - represents the residual hope for Western civilization, which, more than other civilizations, embodies the sacredness of life and personal freedom."


Allam also slams the Arab calls for the killing of Jews. In the past, Allam also criticized resistance groups in Lebanon and Iraq.


Muslims in Italy have been claiming that Allam is an unreliable person who spreads suspicion and hatred against Islam and Muslim people by reporting undocumented, unverified or even utterly false news, just to flatter to the West.


It should be noted that during his adolescent years, Allam maintained completely different views. Allam was raised as a Muslim and attended the Italian school of Cairo. In Italy since 1972, Allam started his stay there as an enthusiastic activist for the Palestinian cause. At that period, Allam thought of Israel as a racist and aggressive state "invented by the Western world as some kind of compensation for the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust".


Years later, his interest in the history of Zionism and a meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat brought him to realize that "Arafat was responsible for Palestinian terrorism" and that "the predication of the ideology of death eventually hit and harmed the Palestinians themselves."


The latest book has changed Allam's life. The Saudi newspaper reported that following threats to his life, the Italian police decided to intensify his security escort. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that many Muslims in Italy denounce Allam as a new "Salman Rushdie", the British writer who was forced into hiding in the 1990s after Iran's religious leaders issued a fatwa (religious edict), calling for his death.

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