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Italian Politicians Complain Gadhafi Trying to Convert Christians

Pro-Vatican politicians have complained about Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's effort to convert Christians to Islam during his visit to Italy.

The visit to Italy by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is certainly not going unnoticed. Following his arrival Sunday he gave a lecture on Islam to a few-hundred Italian women and urged them to convert, handing them copies of the Koran.

His behavior irritated pro-Vatican politicians like the head of the Union of Christian Democrats, Rocco Buttiglione. He said he was certain he would not be able to go to Libya and persuade Muslims to convert to Christianity and come back in one piece.

The politician added that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi should protest such behavior by the Libyan leader. Other commentators also complained that Berlusconi was sacrificing principles and dignity for the sake of trade and investment ties with Libya.

Italy-Libya relations

Ties between Italy and Libya have flourished since a 2008 deal in which Mr. Berlusconi agreed to pay $5 billion in reparations for Italy's colonial rule over Libya in the early 20th century. Italy is now Libya's biggest trading partner.

Meanwhile, in Antrodoco, in the mountains, close to the quake-striken town of l'Aquila where the G8 summit was held last year, residents are enthusiastic about Gadhafi. The Libyan leader pledged to invest in the town because he was so taken by their hospitality when he visited.

This man says he hopes this person, this great colonel, will bring money and "we will be happy." He says they will even have a party when he comes.

Libya invests in Antrodoco

Libya has pledged to invest as much as $19-million in Antrodoco to build a luxury hotel and a bottled water plant in the town.

Mayor Maurizio Faina says he is very pleased.

He says it was a great surprise to hear this from a world leader. For Antrodoco, for its image in the world, he says it is a great opportunity to become better known.

And one woman in town had a bright idea. She owns an ice-cream parlor and has invented a new flavor to honor the Libyan leader.

She says it is called Taste of the East and is made with dates. She adds that she hopes Colonel Gadhafi will like it and that sooner or later she will have the pleasure of having him taste it.