Libya’s Gaddafi upsets Italy with bid to convert women to Islam
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s attempt to convert dozens of young women to Islam during a visit to Italy led to an angry reaction from Italian media on Monday. The mercurial Gaddafi invited a large group of young women hired by a hostessing agency to an event at a Libyan cultural centre in Rome on Sunday and tried to convert them to Islam.
“What would happen if a European head of state went to Libya or another Islamic country and invited everyone to convert to Christianity?” asked the daily Il Messagero. “We believe it would provoke very strong reactions across the Islamic world.”
(Photo: Italian woman with Koran at Gaddafi meeting, 30 August 2010/Max Rossi)
Press reports said three women had converted, but there was no way to verify if that was true. The event, due to be repeated on Monday, followed a similar reception involving some 200 women on a previous visit by Gaddafi to Rome last year.
Italy is now Libya’s biggest trading partner and buys much of its oil and gas from the energy-rich North African state. Libya is also a big investor in the Italian economy. But many commentators were not happy. “The national interest does not justify and certainly does not require anyone to agree to playing host to grotesque acts of clowning,” wrote La Stampa in an editorial.
(Photo: Gaddafi on arrival in Rome, 29 August 2010/Tony Gentile)
Read the whole story here and tell us what you think. What would be the reaction if a Christian leader tried to convert Muslims while visiting a Muslim country?