Oriana Fallaci on trial

July 1, 2006

Via Gates of Vienna, an on-line petition in support of Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, currently on trial in Bergamo, Italy for defaming Islam in her book The Force of Reason. Fallaci remains in New York, dying of cancer.

I’ve not read the book, but I have read The Rage and the Pride (complete translation here), to which the latter book was intended as a postscript. I agreed and disagreed with her in about equal measure, and, in similar vein, I alternately admired her unquenchable spirit and flinched at her venom.

Personally I don’t care if she defamed Islam or not: that’s her right, just as it’s mine to defame Mormonism. I’d sign to support her freedom of speech, but not to signal solidarity with all she has to say. Requires much thought.

All the same, one can’t help thinking of Cassandra and the general fate of the prophet: never to be honoured in her own country.

Update: Thought about it for a while. Signed.

We believe that freedom of speech is a universal value and should not fall within political, cultural or religious issues. Oriana Fallaci has been fighting for freedom of expression in her work as a journalist throughout her whole life. As we intend to protect the freedom of speech we want to express our solidarity with Oriana Fallaci. Being aware of the contentiousness of her latest statements, we still stand against the trial which is infringing freedom of expression.

Further update: A post by James McConologue at The Brussels Journal pretty much sums up my own response to Fallaci:

Fallaci’s book, The Rage and the Pride, heavily criticizes many aspects of Islam and is vulgar, to say the least, in the manner in which it achieves its degrading criticism. Unlike Houellebecq’s and Rushdie’s novels, the text is a critique of Muslims in America and Europe. Her intolerance at the presence of Muslims in Italy, following the terrorist attacks in America, is immediately apparent. She writes: “I’m telling you that we have no room for muezzins, for minarets, for false teetotalers, for their fucking Middle Ages, for their fucking chador.”

There’s unpleasant stuff here, to be sure. But even so, she’s entitled.



  1. This is absurd, Rob. I remember a small article in “The Age” a few months back about an Italian guy who wrote a book that claimed that Jesus never existed. He wasn’t put on trial.

    Religious beliefs deserve no more protection than secular ideological beliefs.

    ps. Do you know if Quadrant ever accepts freelance submissions?

  2. Yes, steve, Paddy McG is open to freelancers — most contributors are.

    You have to keep in mind Quadrant’s ideological orientation — but Paddy will usually publish articles that are well-written and interesting.

  3. The Christian churches tried this ‘thou shalt not criticize us’ stunt historically, and were eventually shouted down in the name of free speech, skeptical inquiry etc.

    Islam should be treated similarly. Just because beliefs are strongly held by a bunch of (largely) poor people does not mean they should receive some sort of free pass. Victims sprout BS, too.

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