Skip to comments.Oriana Fallaci faces jail for writing book on Eurabia
Posted on 06/26/2005 2:51:57 AM PDT by Cincinna
Prophet of Decline An interview with Oriana Fallaci.
BY TUNKU VARADARAJAN Thursday, June 23, 2005
NEW YORK--Oriana Fallaci faces jail. In her mid-70s, stricken with a cancer that, for the moment, permits only the consumption of liquids--so yes, we drank champagne in the course of a three-hour interview--one of the most renowned journalists of the modern era has been indicted by a judge in her native Italy under provisions of the Italian Penal Code which proscribe the "vilipendio," or "vilification," of "any religion admitted by the state."
In her case, the religion deemed vilified is Islam, and the vilification was perpetrated, apparently, in a book she wrote last year--and which has sold many more than a million copies all over Europe--called "The Force of Reason." Its astringent thesis is that the Old Continent is on the verge of becoming a dominion of Islam, and that the people of the West have surrendered themselves fecklessly to the "sons of Allah." So in a nutshell, Oriana Fallaci faces up to two years' imprisonment for her beliefs--which is one reason why she has chosen to stay put in New York. Let us give thanks for the First Amendment.
It is a shame, in so many ways, that "vilipend," the latinate word that is the pinpoint equivalent in English of the Italian offense in question, is scarcely ever used in the Anglo-American lexicon; for it captures beautifully the pomposity, as well as the anachronistic outlandishness, of the law in question. A "vilification," by contrast, sounds so sordid, so tabloid--hardly fitting for a grande dame.
"When I was given the news," Ms. Fallaci says of her recent indictment, "I laughed. Bitterly, of course, but I laughed. No amusement, no surprise, because the trial is nothing else but a demonstration that everything I've written is true." An activist judge in Bergamo, in northern Italy, took it upon himself to admit a complaint against Ms. Fallaci that even the local prosecutors would not touch. The complainant, one Adel Smith--who, despite his name, is Muslim, and an incendiary public provocateur to boot--has a history of anti-Fallaci crankiness, and is widely believed to be behind the publication of a pamphlet, "Islam Punishes Oriana Fallaci," which exhorts Muslims to "eliminate" her. (Ironically, Mr. Smith, too, faces the peculiar charge of vilipendio against religion--Roman Catholicism in his case--after he described the Catholic Church as "a criminal organization" on television. Two years ago, he made news in Italy by filing suit for the removal of crucifixes from the walls of all public-school classrooms, and also, allegedly, for flinging a crucifix out of the window of a hospital room where his mother was being treated. "My mother will not die in a room where there is a crucifix," he said, according to hospital officials.) Ms. Fallaci speaks in a passionate growl: "Europe is no longer Europe, it is 'Eurabia,' a colony of Islam, where the Islamic invasion does not proceed only in a physical sense, but also in a mental and cultural sense. Servility to the invaders has poisoned democracy, with obvious consequences for the freedom of thought, and for the concept itself of liberty." Such words--"invaders," "invasion," "colony," "Eurabia"--are deeply, immensely, Politically Incorrect; and one is tempted to believe that it is her tone, her vocabulary, and not necessarily her substance or basic message, that has attracted the ire of the judge in Bergamo (and has made her so radioactive in the eyes of Europe's cultural elites).
"Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder," the historian Arnold Toynbee wrote, and these words could certainly be Ms. Fallaci's. She is in a black gloom about Europe and its future: "The increased presence of Muslims in Italy, and in Europe, is directly proportional to our loss of freedom." There is about her a touch of Oswald Spengler, the German philosopher and prophet of decline, as well as a flavor of Samuel Huntington and his clash of civilizations. But above all there is pessimism, pure and unashamed. When I ask her what "solution" there might be to prevent the European collapse of which she speaks, Ms. Fallaci flares up like a lit match. "How do you dare to ask me for a solution? It's like asking Seneca for a solution. You remember what he did?" She then says "Phwah, phwah," and gestures at slashing her wrists. "He committed suicide!" Seneca was accused of being involved in a plot to murder the emperor Nero. Without a trial, he was ordered by Nero to kill himself. One senses that Ms. Fallaci sees in Islam the shadow of Nero. "What could Seneca do?" she asks, with a discernible shudder. "He knew it would end that way--with the fall of the Roman Empire. But he could do nothing."
The impending Fall of the West, as she sees it, now torments Ms. Fallaci. And as much as that Fall, what torments her is the blithe way in which the West is marching toward its precipice of choice. "Look at the school system of the West today. Students do not know history! They don't, for Christ's sake. They don't know who Churchill was! In Italy, they don't even know who Cavour was!"--a reference to Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, the conservative father, with the radical Garibaldi, of Modern Italy. Ms. Fallaci, rarely reverent, pauses here to reflect on the man, and on the question of where all the conservatives have gone in Europe. "In the beginning, I was dismayed, and I asked, how is it possible that we do not have Cavour . . . just one Cavour, uno? He was a revolutionary, and yes, he was not of the left. Italy needs a Cavour--Europe needs a Cavour." Ms. Fallaci describes herself, too, as "a revolutionary"--"because I do what conservatives in Europe don't do, which is that I don't accept to be treated like a delinquent." She professes to "cry, sometimes, because I'm not 20 years younger, and I'm not healthy. But if I were, I would even sacrifice my writing to enter politics somehow." Here she pauses to light a slim black cigarillo, and then to take a sip of champagne. Its chill makes her grimace, but fortified, she returns to vehement speech, more clearly evocative of Oswald Spengler than at any time in our interview. "You cannot survive if you do not know the past. We know why all the other civilizations have collapsed--from an excess of welfare, of richness, and from lack of morality, of spirituality." (She uses "welfare" here in the sense of well-being, so she is talking, really, of decadence.) "The moment you give up your principles, and your values . . . the moment you laugh at those principles, and those values, you are dead, your culture is dead, your civilization is dead. Period." The force with which she utters the word "dead" here is startling. I reach for my flute of champagne, as if for a crutch.
"I feel less alone when I read the books of Ratzinger." I had asked Ms. Fallaci whether there was any contemporary leader she admired, and Pope Benedict XVI was evidently a man in whom she reposed some trust. "I am an atheist, and if an atheist and a pope think the same things, there must be something true. It's that simple! There must be some human truth here that is beyond religion." Ms. Fallaci, who made her name by interviewing numerous statesmen (and not a few tyrants), believes that ours is "an age without leaders. We stopped having leaders at the end of the 20th century." Of George Bush, she will concede only that he has "vigor," and that he is "obstinate" (in her book a compliment) and "gutsy. . . . Nobody obliged him to do anything about Terri Schiavo, or to take a stand on stem cells. But he did."
But it is "Ratzinger" (as she insists on calling the pope) who is her soulmate. John Paul II--"Wojtyla"--was a "warrior, who did more to end the Soviet Union than even America," but she will not forgive him for his "weakness toward the Islamic world. Why, why was he so weak?"
The scant hopes that she has for the West she rests on his successor. As a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI wrote frequently on the European (and the Western) condition. Last year, he wrote an essay titled "If Europe Hates Itself," from which Ms. Fallaci reads this to me: "The West reveals . . . a hatred of itself, which is strange and can only be considered pathological; the West . . . no longer loves itself; in its own history, it now sees only what is deplorable and destructive, while it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure."
"Ecco!" she says. A man after her own heart. "Ecco!" But I cannot be certain whether I see triumph in her eyes, or pain.
As for the vilipendio against Islam, she refuses to attend the trial in Bergamo, set for June 2006. "I don't even know if I will be around next year. My cancers are so bad that I think I've arrived at the end of the road. What a pity. I would like to live not only because I love life so much, but because I'd like to see the result of the trial. I do think I will be found guilty." At this point she laughs. Bitterly, of course, but she laughs.
Mr. Varadarajan is editorial features editor of The Wall Street Journal.
On trial for writing a book?
In a so-called self proclaimed free democratic society?
What next? Book burnings and limitations on free speech?
What a disgrace! Shame on France!
I hope nobody asks me what I think about the religion of peace the next time I'm in Italy. I could get into some real trouble.
Muslims in Europe are doing nothing new. This "religion of peace?" has spread this way since Allah's day. The only thing that is unfortunate about this writer's book, showing how this religion is bringing down Europe is... that there are not thousands more authors writing the same. The negatives of Islam have got to be exposed to the world, more and more. As faiths go, it doesn't even get to laughable. Good thing... if you were laughing in a muslim country you might get your tongue cut out! Or your head sawed off.
When it becomes a crime to write the truth about such and evil blood cult like Islam in the so called free world, you know the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
That cult should not even be deemed a "religion" in any country. It violates every hate law known.
The US Constitution has a 1st Amendment protecting free speech and freedom of the press. Thank God!
Be up in arms! Don't buy her book!
Put a writer in jail for her words? Last time I looked it was the Taliban,Hitler,Stalin and the Ayatollah Khomeini who advocated that.
Are you sure you are on the right website?
I'm not following you. Can you explain? The words you're using sound kinda like you're being sarcastic, but the tone of your post kinda sounds like you're not being sarcastic....
According to the koran, they are 'citizens' of no nation but islam.
You meant..."Shame on Italy."
French bashing has become a knee-jerk reaction for some it seems.
Anyway, I don't think the Italian authorities will jail her. They are just being very careful. The Italians are in the main good and honourable people.
Brilliant people those Framers of the US Constitution.
Trollin on the river...
I personally agree with Ms. Coulter "We should invade their countries, kiill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity."
Okay, I'm not so sure about the last part. But we are talking about a religion/culture which jails Christians merely for practicing their religion, (or better still, puts converts mental hospitals) and is OUTRAGED when Christians proselytize, and yet asks for permission to practice its barbaric customs (forcing rape victims to marry their rapists? KILLING rape victims to restore family honor?[Just imagine that a minute: Oold Khyber struts down the street, ehad held high, a man of repute and respect because when his innocent daughter was raped by some muslim pervert, he killed, not the pervert, but the DAUGHTER!]) in Europe and then whines and appeals to Western values when the obvious degeneracy and perversion of vast groups of followers of the so-called Prophet are brought to light.
If the same stuff was written about and how they rule the world we would be up in arms over it.
I have two comments on this: First, you want to try that again, this time in English? Second, um, you wouldn't be a muslim practicing a little deceit here, would you?
From us people who claim to love Democracy and equal rights for all, isn't it strange how we do not want those rights to cover fellow citizens who happen to be muslim.
Just as a group of communists are committing treason and sedition when they gather to plot the downfall of the US, so also those Muslims (not all, but all too many -- who are all too rarely dencounced by their co-religionists) who pray, give, fight, and work for the downfall of the US are also committing treason. Sedition is not a Democratic right.
It is not because they are muslim that they are reviled, it is because they are the KIND of muslim who dances in the streets when Christians and Jews are killed by perverted murderous hypocrites and who longs to reduce members of other religions to,a t best, second classs citizenship
Do YOU love democracy? Do YOU think the Democracy grants the right to the Saudis to jail Christians? Do YOU think it is Democratic or just in any way to kill a retarded girl because she was forced into prostitution? Do YOU think a system which stones to death adulterous women but makes it almost impossible to convict adulterous men (unless they are caught in the act) is just and Democratic? That is what muslim cultures do.
How many mosques are there in Rome? Is it illegal to be a muslim in Rome? How many Christian churches are there in Mecca? Is it legal to practice Christianity in Mecca?
Tell me some more about the Democratic aspirations of Islam. I love creative fiction ...
The question is, since when in a democracy is it illegal to write a book? There have been horrible atrocities committed in the name of religions for thousands of years. Islam is but another religion exercising it's hostile takeover of societies. If one is not free to discuss the evils being committed in the name of religion, how is one to decide the validity of the religion. Let Islam dispute her claims if it can, if she wrote the truth she has committed no crime.
Perhaps it is time for Islam to face the charges of 'hate crimes' too. Oh but wait, that could lead prosecutors to an untimely death like Theo Van Gogh.
After reading her--since 911--I really like this woman. She is an atheist--her words--but she has more commonsense clarity than many believers I've met. And more spunk.
But she, unlike them, doesn't have Christ...and I hope she will come to Him even in the sunset of her life to find rest.
This is a very good interview. Aside from reporting the things she said, it gave a real feeling for her as a person and one who is caught in a bizarre situation, at that.
Islam, like Communism, has a real genius for using the weakness of a society to make it attack itself. She points out the lack of knowledge of history and, worse, the manipulation of the attitude of Europe to its own past. This ends with Europe (and the West) rejecting itself without Islam having to do anything but wait at the gates for its moment.
I'm always amazed, btw, at the reach of European "hate speech" laws, which are, of course, selectively enforced.
Perhaps it just might be the Satanic Elites who are playing off the various groups ?
I'm just wondering if you're here to preach Islam to us kaffirs? I'm also intrigued by the words, "fellow citizens who happen to be muslim." You wouldn't "happen to be" muslim, would you?
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