Italian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Converts to Islam
RIYADH, November 25, 2001
Following a 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.
Sheikh 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.
“He came 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).
During his 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 November 2000.
Cardeilli, 59, a father of two, was not available for comment as he left Riyadh for Rome on Saturday.
Saudi Arabia has in the past few years witnessed the conversion of more than 50,000 foreigners to Islam, the Saudi daily newspaper Oqaz reported.
According 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.