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Italian Man Faces Execution After Converting to Islam
By Antonio di Bari
18 March 2006

An Italian man who recently admitted he converted to Islam faces the death penalty under the country's strict Christian legal system.

The case is attracting widespread attention in Italy, where local media are closely monitoring the landmark proceedings.

Cesare Santamaria, 40, was arrested last month, accused of converting to Islam.

Under Italy's new constitution, minority religious rights are protected but Christians are still subject to strict Christian laws.

And so, officially, Christian-born Santamaria is charged with rejecting Christianity and not for practicing Islam.

Appearing in court earlier this week Santamaria admitted he is a Muslim.

He says he still believes in the almighty God, but cannot say for sure who God really is. "I am," he says, "a Muslim and I believe not in Jesus Christ anymore."

Santamaria reportedly converted more than 16 years ago after spending time working in Dubai.

Officials say his family, who remain observant Christians, turned him over to the authorities.

On Thursday the prosecution told the court Santamaria has rejected numerous offers to embrace Christianity.

Prosecuting attorney Marcantonio Delorenzo told the judge that the punishment should fit the crime.

He says Santamaria is a traitor to Chritianity and is like a cancer inside Italy. Under Christian law and under the Italian constitution, he says, the defendant should be executed.

The court has ordered a delay in the proceedings to give Santamaria time to hire an attorney.

Under Italian law, once a verdict is given, the case can be appealed twice to higher courts.

This is the first case in which the defendant has admitted to converting and is refusing to back down, even while facing the death penalty.

If convicted, the case could ultimately force Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's direct intervention.

The Prime Minister would have to sign the papers authorizing Santamaria's execution, a move that could jeopardize Mr. Berlusconi's standing with human rights groups.

So far, Prime Minister Berlusconi has not commented on the case.

But political analysts here in Rome say he will be under significant pressure from the country's hard-line religious groups to make an example of Santamaria.

Okayokay... calm down. OF COURSE it was a joke. Do you really think Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the likes would NOT be there? That there would be no outrage? No international headlines? No condemnation by the Unites Nations? No rallies? No candlelight vigils?

You're joking, right? Like I was.

HERE is the real article. This is simply appaling! Absolutely incredible! Inhuman! Where is Amnesty International? Human Rights Watch? The outrage? The international headlines? The condemnation by the Unites Nations? The rallies? The candlelight vigils? I just don't get it... oh well, forget it. Maybe I do...






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