November 25, 2001
The Italian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Torquato Cardeilli, has
converted to Islam, the Italian embassy here announced Sunday,
news agencies reported.
close reading of the Holy Qur'an and study of Islamic culture,
Cardeilli embraced Islam to become the first ambassador to
convert to Islam in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites
in Mecca and Medina, according to an office which handles
conversions to Islam.
Nouh bin Nasser's office said the Italian ambassador converted
to Islam on Nov. 15, the day before the start of the Muslim holy
fasting month of Ramadan.
to the office and read the two testimonies [necessary to declare
faith: 'I proclaim that there is no God but Allah, and I
proclaim that Mohammad is His Prophet and Messenger'] and then
prayed with us," Nasser told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
34-year diplomatic career, Arabic-speaking Cardeilli, a graduate
in linguistics and Oriental civilization, has been posted to
several Arab countries and took up his current post in Riyadh in
59, a father of two, was not available for comment as he left
Riyadh for Rome on Saturday.
has in the past few years witnessed the conversion of more than
50,000 foreigners to Islam, the Saudi daily newspaper Oqaz
to Nouh, an average of three to four people convert to Islam at
his office every day, and the number rises to five during
Ramadan. Twenty similar offices operate in Riyadh and many more
in other cities.