The director of the Italian newspaper La Stampa played down the controversy in Italy over the young woman Silvia Romano, who had been held hostage by the Mujahideen Youth Movement in Somalia for 18 months, and announced immediately after her release about a week ago that she had converted to Islam and became her name, Aisha.
In his response to a reader’s letter criticizing the government's handling of the release of Silvia Romano and everyone seeking to reap its political fruits, Massimo Jannini said that he understands the wrath of that reader and the anger of many who wrote the newspaper on the same topic, and focused on the human dimension of the story.
He added that he, at first glance, was surprised when he heard the liberated young woman declare her Islam saying: "I converted to Islam, and now my name is Aisha", but in the next second he was overwhelmed by another feeling expressed in the following form: Christianity, Muslim, is Italian in all cases, welcome back Sylvia or Aisha, whatever you feel and feel.
Responding to those who criticized Silvia Romano's 24-year-old decision to convert to Islam, Janini said, "We do not know what Sylvia was subjected to in those months. We do not know anything about the existential and emotional storm that may have rocked her" during the period of detention of the Mujahideen Youth Movement.
Addressing the angry reader, Jannini asked, "Have you ever thought about what would have happened, this week, if Silvia had got off the plane that brought her back from Somalia wearing jeans and flying her country's three-color flag? What cries would these rabid dogs have released if the freed young woman was You raise the Bible instead of the Qur’an?
Amid the controversy over her conversion to Islam, which echoed in parliament when a Northern League party (an extreme right) called her a "new terrorist", Aisha Romano appeared on Facebook and thanked the Italian Muslim community for her sympathy for her.
She began her brief talk by directing the greeting of peace in the language of daad, "Peace be upon you and God's mercy," and she called on God to bless the feelings of sympathy shown by this community through a video on a website of the Muslim community in Italy.
Aisha Romano expressed her admiration for this video and concluded her message by saying, "Greetings, my brothers. To a meeting soon, God willing."