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Not the Rome of Old: Muslim Threats Rattle a City Plus: Oriana Fallaci, RIP
Zenit News Agency ^ | September 21, 2006 | Elizabeth Lev

Posted on 09/21/2006 6:44:57 PM PDT by NYer

ROME, SEPT. 21, 2006 ( The Romans are worried.

On the bus, in the cafes and standing in the interminable post office lines, people are weighing the possibility of a Muslim reprisal in the wake of Benedict XVI's citation of a 14th-century dialogue between the Byzantine emperor Manuel II and a Persian theologian.

Though Romans gracefully weathered the 4 million visitors for the funeral of Pope John Paul II in April 2005 and stoically considered the possibility of a terrorist attack before the general elections this past spring, the reactions to Benedict XVI's lecture at the University of Regensburg have sent the Romans running for cover.

The whole affair has a rather surreal aura. How one line -- a medieval citation, no less -- in the midst of an academic lecture can provoke not only death threats but church bombings and even the assassination of a 70-year-old Catholic nun baffles the modern imagination.

In the now well-known text, the emperor stated that if one looks for what "Mohammed brought that was new, there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

This line, taken out of context by some reporters, has become a pretext for fundamentalist Muslims to proclaim war against the Pope and the Eternal City.

The full text was printed by ZENIT on Sept. 12.

Like their U.S. counterparts, many Italian newspapers are not doing much to assuage the growing Roman anxiety. One major paper ran the headline, "Distruggeremo Roma," or "We Will Destroy Rome," in big bold letters so that even a casual glance would strike fear into the heart of the passers-by.

Security has indeed been stepped up in Rome, but the fear of being bombed seemed to worry only the natives. Tourists lined up for hours as usual to visit St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums.

Rome's long history has seen many sacks and invasions, but the city also bears the memory of being an oasis of peace during periods of war and violence. Romans are proud of being a crossroads where leaders from all over the world can engage in dialogue. The idea of the Eternal City as a prime target for terrorism is difficult to accept.

But more worrisome to me than a suicide bomber in St. Peter's Square, is the disposition of many Romans to give into the demands for suppression of discourse. As someone who spends more time at the Vatican than the average Roman, and whose children walk through St. Peter's Square to get to school every day, I am disappointed to see the Romans fold under pressure.

Gone apparently are the Romans of old, who in 390 B.C. waited for the Gaulish invaders, armed only with the pride and dignity of being citizens of this great city. Forgotten are the Romans who rebuilt the city after it was sacked by Normans, Muslims and Lutherans. Now many Romans look to keep their heads down and hope they won't be noticed on the world scene.

If the Pope, in an academic lecture at a university, cannot cite a medieval text without being burned in effigy, and his home threatened, there isn't much hope for dialogue. The violence of the fundamentalists just seems to prove the Byzantine emperor Manuel II right.

But if the Romans take the attitude that every word must be considered so as not to offend the Muslims, how far back will they have to draw the line?

Shockingly, in fact, a great many Romans on the street don't blame al-Qaida or Islamic extremists for their worries; they blame Pope Benedict.

They say, "He shouldn't have provoked them," and complain that the Holy Father's expression of regret wasn't enough since he only apologized for the reaction his lecture caused, not for his words in themselves.

What kind of world are we living in when we cannot engage in civil discourse, even on hotly contested points, without a knee-jerk recourse to violence? More importantly, how can we blame the Pope as if his words "caused" the violence, or as if there were any proportion between his words and the unconscionable actions that followed?

Are we so afraid for our own skins that we would rather abandon the open discussion of crucial issues than risk irrational violence?

Unfortunately the mood of the people on the street found an echo in the halls of the Italian Senate. The senators shot down a proposed "solidarity vote" of support for Benedict XVI. Meanwhile a few from the far left criticized the Pope for inflaming an "explosive situation."

In the midst of this general abandonment of the Bishop of Rome, several center-right leaders rallied to his side. Pier Ferdinando Casini, president of the Union of Christian Democrats, said, "The West should be ashamed of itself for asking explanations from the Pope for things he didn't say."

Gianfranco Fini, leader of the National Alliance party, commented, "I think that Ratzinger hasn't offended anyone. We can't dilute our identity."

What is desperately needed now is not political correctness but clarity. Respect, yes. Civility, by all means. But clarity.

We ought to embrace Benedict XVI's challenge to renounce religiously motivated violence in any form, and insist on reciprocity in this fundamental condition for a peaceful world.

The great Pope St. Pius V, who called together the Holy Alliance to defeat the Turkish fleet in 1571, implored the entire Catholic world to recite the rosary and beg Our Lady's aid in repelling the imminent Turkish invasion.

With the feast of the Holy Rosary only two weeks away, we should take a leaf out of his book.

* * *

A Maverick Passes

A few days after Benedict XVI's lecture at the University of Regensburg, Florentine author and journalist Oriana Fallaci died at the age of 77. Her obituary was buried in the back pages of Italian papers because of the polemic raging around the Pope. But the thoughts and ideas of Fallaci were on the minds of many Italians as the controversy unfolded.

Oriana Fallaci was born in 1929 in Florence. A young girl during World War II, she assisted her father in the resistance movement and was decorated for her efforts against the Nazi occupation at the age of 14.

Fallaci went on to become a journalist and during the course of her career, she reported from the front lines of battlefields and interviewed some of the most influential people of our age.

In these years, Fallaci belonged to the Radical Party, hung around with Pier Paolo Pasolini and his circle and proclaimed herself atheist and very anti-clerical. Her books sold well and she lived half her time in Florence and half her time in New York.

In 1990 she stopped writing and maintained a 10-year silence until 2001, when she started writing about radical Islam. In her interview, titled "Rabbia and Orgoglio," the Florentine raised an alarm regarding Europe's incapacity to defend itself against the Islamicization of the West.

She lauded the patriotism of the Americans to bond together in the face of threat and contrasted it with the internal squabbling that was weakening Europe.

Her next book, "The Force of Reason," followed up the first warnings with a red alert that Europe had already succumbed to Islam. Coining the term "Eurabia," she denounced the forced conversions, the treatment of women and other aspects of Islamic culture, and claimed that Europe was on the verge of becoming a dominion of Islam.

Fallaci's rough language and frank words soon got her into trouble. She was indicted in 2005 for the crime of "vilipendio" (vilification) of religion and faced trial and imprisonment. (It is interesting to note that her accuser, Adel Smith, is the same man who sued to remove all public crucifixes in Italy a few years back.)

Fallaci remained in New York, primarily because she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. In the United States, Fallaci began to speak out on questions that one would associate more with Catholic journalists than with a self described "atheist anti-clerical."

She denounced the starvation of Terry Schiavo, praising George Bush for his attempt to save her life. She also wrote opposing homosexual "marriage." In August 2005, Oriana came to Rome to meet with the newly elected Benedict XVI at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

The contents of the meeting were not made public, but Fallaci spoke frankly of her admiration for Joseph Ratzinger. She said, "I feel less alone when I read the books of Ratzinger."

It seems odd that Fallaci isn't here to comment on the events of these days, but a headline in the Roman newspaper Il Messagero sums it all up with "Oriana was Right!"

TOPICS: Activism; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; History; Ministry/Outreach; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: 911; fallaci; islam; italy; lizlev; obituary; oriana; rome
Elizabeth Lev teaches Christian art and architecture at Duquesne University's Italian campus. She can be reached at
1 posted on 09/21/2006 6:44:58 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

2 posted on 09/21/2006 6:45:40 PM PDT by NYer ("That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah." Hillel)
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To: NYer
Forgotten are the Romans who rebuilt the city after it was sacked by Normans, Muslims and Lutherans.

Historically accurate, perhaps, but it sounds like the punch line of a joke. Didn't the Presbyterians get their shot at the spoils, too? ;)

3 posted on 09/21/2006 6:46:46 PM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("When the government is invasive, the people are wanting." -- Tao Te Ching)
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To: Mr. Jeeves
Didn't the Presbyterians get their shot at the spoils, too? ;)

No doubt, they did. Who didn't? :-)

4 posted on 09/21/2006 6:50:57 PM PDT by NYer ("That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah." Hillel)
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To: NYer

These animals are beating us into silence with their words. If this incident passes with a win in their column they will become even more emboldened. They are barely contained now. This is going to get ugly.

5 posted on 09/21/2006 6:52:11 PM PDT by CremeSaver (I don't repeat gossip, so listen carefully.)
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To: NYer

Liz Lev is great, God bless her. Thank you for posting.

6 posted on 09/21/2006 6:52:12 PM PDT by Nihil Obstat (viva il papa - be not afraid)
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To: NYer

Wow. "The Rage and the Pride" is an excellent book. Fallaci nailed it then, and I've been meaning to buy "The Force of Reason" to see how she followed up.

She tried to warn them. Thank God she wrote it all down. Hopefully they'll heed her words before it's too late.

RIP, Oriana. I hope you found your peace with God before you left this place. There are some signs of that in this article, and that's encouraging. Hopefully you'll be one of the people I get to meet in heaven.

7 posted on 09/21/2006 6:54:05 PM PDT by LibertyGirl77
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To: NYer
The citizens of Rome and the Vatican had better get used to being on the terrorists' bulls-eye. One of the "Signs of Qiyamah" is the conquest of Rome by the Mahdi's army.
(not making a link so they don't trace hits back to this thread)

(Scroll halfway down page)

Conquest of Istanbul and Rome
“The Prophet said, ‘you will invade the Arabian Peninsula and Allah will grant it (to you). Then (you will invade) Persia and Allah will grant it (to you). Then, you will invade Rome and Allah will grant it (to you). Then, you will invade The Dajjal and Allah will grant him (to you).’"
“The Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam said, ‘The building of Bayt al-Maqdis (al-Aqsa in Jerusalem) will be followed by the destruction of Yathrib (Madinah), which will be followed by a fierce battle (great war), which will be followed by the conquest of Rome, which will be followed by the appearance of the Dajjal.’"

Oriana Fallaci was a courageous soul.
Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.

For more information about Muslim End-Time prophecies, see my FR homepage.

8 posted on 09/21/2006 7:22:53 PM PDT by Dajjal
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To: NYer

The Romans blaming the Pope? Figures . . . Europeans!

During President Bush's visit to Rome a couple of years back - to bestow on John Paul II the Medal of Freedom (I think) and to receive as the pope's thanks a scolding penned by one of the anti-American European Curial Cardinals (Sodano? Martino? Tauran?) - my young Italian cousins told me on the phone that they were heading out to join their young friends in a protest against Bush's visit.

I told them, "Make sure you start on the beach at Anzio."

Of course, they didn't know what the hell I was talking about, so I filled them in: "You all profess to love my father (he's the 86 year old patriarch of the family). Well, back in 1940, even before Pearl Harbor, he put his life on hold, and a year later was heading over the Europe TO BAIL YOUR ASS OUT! And what was Italy doing? Swearing allegiance to Hitler. Have a great demonstration!"

Of course, I sent a similar email to Martino's office when he criticized the US for showing pictures of the captured Saddam . . . asked him what his father was doing in the late 30s, early 40s, and if he remembered which army liberated Rome while his predecessors were biting their nails and keeping their noses clean behind the Nazis' white line.

And when Cardinal Hamao issued some big decree about August 6 being the day of infamy (Hiroshima); I got an email address for him and suggested that he might switch the date to December 7 in honor of HIS nation's brave attack on us which led to August 6.

True Hamao's a transplant, but the rest of them are Europeans . . . of course, so is Pope Benedict, but he's head and shoulders over all of them, and don't think that his days in the US POW camp didn't give him a more benign view of the USA in wartime - in fact, my father finished up World War II helping to guard the German prisoners at Regensberg (he wondered the other day, "Could the Pope have been one of those guys?").

Let him at least hear, Viva il Papa, from the grandchildren of those who left Europe long ago, the children of those who went back to defend the lands their parents had left - we who recognized in John Paul II the God-given champion against Communism and, I suspect, in Benedict the God-given champion against Islamo-fascism and the terrorism it espouses.

9 posted on 09/21/2006 9:15:50 PM PDT by TaxachusettsMan
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To: Dajjal

I'm really sorry to hear that the Romans are folding, even though nothing has happened to them and they are just succumbing to the gassy effusions of nutty mullahs. It's getting easier every day to force those conversions - a few newspaper headlines and everybody's ready to give in.

10 posted on 09/22/2006 4:00:48 AM PDT by livius
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To: TaxachusettsMan

Good on you! Great letters and much needed reminders to Europeans (and Japanese). The giant leftist eraser has swept across history and people can now conveniently ignore any facts that don't fit their agenda.

11 posted on 09/22/2006 4:03:07 AM PDT by livius
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To: NYer
Shockingly, in fact, a great many Romans on the street don't blame al-Qaida or Islamic extremists for their worries; they blame Pope Benedict.

Shocking? I'm not shocked. They're simply cowards.

The way to deal with this Mohammedan outrage is to issue statements on the topics of violence and religion, and faith and reason, regularly. Eventually, the rioting will taper off and the message will sink in. The pope needs to engage in a process of desensitization.

That's one thing the Left has mastered, and one tactic that we can borrow from them.

12 posted on 09/22/2006 4:42:24 AM PDT by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
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To: NYer; Mr. Jeeves; Dr. Eckleburg; AlbionGirl; Frumanchu; TonyRo76; Alex Murphy; HarleyD; ...
Didn't the Presbyterians get their shot at the spoils, too?

Yours truly did!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

13 posted on 09/22/2006 4:56:03 AM PDT by Gamecock (The GRPL: Because life is too short for bad Theology*)
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To: Mr. Jeeves; NYer
Forgotten are the Romans who rebuilt the city after it was sacked by Normans, Muslims and Lutherans.

Oh the Lutheran sack of Rome was THE MOST barbaric, unquestionably! They cruelly forced Roman children as young as 4 or 5 to eat generous portions of lutefisk.

To this day, my Italian relatives still have not forgotten that black, black day. ;)

14 posted on 09/22/2006 8:02:28 AM PDT by Claud
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To: Gamecock

Hey Gamecock, what that guy doing on the *outside* of the Coliseum? ;)

15 posted on 09/22/2006 8:08:00 AM PDT by Claud
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To: All

Shame on Italy, shame on Europe, shame on the European Parliament whose silence is ignominously deaphening! No word uttered! Our Italian and european brave leftists allied suicide candidates to the islam madness. Politically correct embalmed clowns! Selling our western values to the ruffian barbarians...:((((((

16 posted on 09/22/2006 11:52:03 AM PDT by bohemien
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