Friday, November 04, 2005

"I defended the Jews as a Muslim"


Corriere Della Sera

4th November, 2005.

by Magdi Allam ( columnist for Il Corriere della Sera) The demonstration and the final appeal to the Muslims. I was the first Muslim public figure to speak at a large demonstration defending the right of Israel to exist.

I realize that this could have set off different emotions and reactions. In fact, from the moment I started speaking I knew that my speech would have been examined with a fine toothed comb, both in content and in the feelings which gave it weight.

On my side there was emotion, and lots of it too. It was the first time I appeared before the “live” judgment of thousands of people. But inside I was at peace. An internal solidity where the ethical foundation of the sacredness of human life finds its deepest meaning in the recognition of the right of Israel to exist. This is why I began by saying: “Dear friends, I won’t hide my emotions as an Italian citizen a Muslim, a layman in stating my defense of Israel’s unequivocal right to its existence. My dear Israeli and Jewish friends, your fight for Israel’s right to exist is also my fight for the right to life of all, including that of Palestinians who aspire to an independent state, including the many, too many, Muslim victims of barbaric acts of Islamist terror. On the foundations of the right to life, we all build our homes. It is a war of civilization which we will win together”.

I’m not naοve. I know very well that it’s not normal for Muslims to take part in a public demonstration in favour of Israel’s right to exist. While looking at the dozens of Muslims who gathered around the Iranian embassy in Rome, I asked myself whether they would have come even had there not been the blatant death threats made by the President Ahmadinejad towards the Jewish state. For the Italian Muslims, is it really support of Israel’s right to exist, or is it more of a distancing from and indifensable theocratic regime which follows Nazi insanities? When I adhered to this initiative organized by the director of “Il Foglio” Giuliano Ferrara, with me there was only one other Muslim, the young Khalid Chaouki, columnist of the weekly “News”. The following day I managed to garner the adhesion of five or six Muslims, among whom there was Souad Sbai, the president of the Federation of Moroccan associations in Italy, Ali Younis, an anesthesiologist from Pescara, and Mario Sciajola, ex Italian ambassador who became a Muslim convert.

Ignoring a priori those who have publicly denied Israel’s right to exist, mostly seditious imams and Muslims tied in to the mosques, among those I contacted, the prevailing feeling was one of fear. Fear of betraying Islam and the Palestinian cause. Because Israel is the taboo par excellence for Muslims. Many wouldn’t shake hands with an Israeli. He is perceived as the incarnation of evil, cursed by God and men.

However, within 24 hours I was surprised by the sudden influx of phone calls by Muslims wanting to adhere to the demonstration. “Magdi, we are with you!” They are exponents of civil society, students, professionals, businessmen, artists and local politicians. Members of an important sector which is by and large ignored because they don’t conform to the image of the “Homo islamicus”. They don’t wear burqas or grow long beards; they don’t qualify whatever they say by quoting from the Koran. Even when talking about the right to life of Israelis, Americans, Jews, Christians. Indeed, it is these Muslims who see themselves as people living among people, who believe in the right to life of all as a natural and divine gift, who consider religion to be compatible with reason, those who yesterday took part in the demonstration in favour of Israel’s right to exist.


Post a Comment

<< Home