Oriana Fallaci

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Oriana Fallaci
Born 29 June 1929(1929-06-29)
Florence, Italy 1
Died 15 September 2006 (aged 77)
Occupation journalist, author, political interviewer

Oriana Fallaci (29 June 1929[1] - 15 September 2006) was an Italian journalist, author, and political interviewer. A former partisan during World War II, she had a long and successful journalistic career.

She has interviewed many internationally known leaders and celebrities such as the Dalai Lama, Henry Kissinger, the Shah of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, Willy Brandt, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Walter Cronkite, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Federico Fellini, Sammy Davis Jr, Nguyen Cao Ky, Yasir Arafat, Indira Gandhi, Alexandros Panagoulis, Archbishop Makarios III, Golda Meir, Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, Haile Selassie, Sean Connery and Lech Walesa.

After retirement, she returned to the spotlight after writing a series of articles and books critical of Islam and Arabs that aroused both support as well as controversies and accusations of racism and Islamophobia.


[edit] Life and career

Fallaci was born in Florence, Italy. During World War II, she joined the resistance despite her youth, in the democratic armed group "Giustizia e Libertà". Her father Edoardo Fallaci, a cabinet maker in Florence, was a political activist struggling to put an end to the dictatorship of Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini. It was during this period that Fallaci was first exposed to the atrocities of war. In a 1976 retrospective collection of her works, she remarked that:

“Whether it comes from a despotic sovereign or an elected president, from a murderous general or a beloved leader, I see power as an inhuman and hateful phenomenon. . . . I have always looked on disobedience toward the oppressive as the only way to use the miracle of having been born.”[2]

Fallaci began her journalistic career in her teens, becoming a special correspondent for the Italian paper Il mattino dell'Italia centrale in 1946[3]. Since 1967 she worked as a war correspondent, in Vietnam, for the Indo-Pakistani War, in the Middle East and in South America. For many years, Fallaci was a special correspondent for the political magazine L'Europeo and wrote for a number of leading newspapers and Epoca magazine. During the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, prior to the 1968 Summer Olympics, Fallaci was shot three times, dragged down stairs by her hair, and left for dead by Mexican forces. In a profile of Fallaci, The New Yorker described her former support of the student activists as having "devolved into a dislike of Mexicans":[2]

The demonstrations by immigrants in the United States these past few months "disgust" her, especially when protesters displayed the Mexican flag. "I don't love the Mexicans," Fallaci said, invoking her nasty treatment at the hands of Mexican police in 1968. "If you hold a gun and say, 'Choose who is worse between the Muslims and the Mexicans,' I have a moment of hesitation. Then I choose the Muslims, because they have broken my balls."[2]

In the early 1970s, she had an affair with the subject of one of her interviews, Alexandros Panagoulis, who had been a solitary figure in the Greek resistance against the 1967 dictatorship, having been captured, heavily tortured and imprisoned for his (unsuccessful) assassination attempt against dictator and ex-Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos. Panagoulis died in 1976, under controversial circumstances, in a road accident. Fallaci maintained that Panagoulis was assassinated by remnants of the Greek military junta and her book Un Uomo (A Man) was inspired by the life of Panagoulis.

During her 1972 interview with Henry Kissinger, Kissinger agreed that the Vietnam War was a "useless war" and compared himself to "the cowboy who leads the wagon train by riding ahead alone on his horse".[4] Kissinger later wrote that it was "the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press."

Fallaci has twice received the St. Vincent Prize for journalism, as well as the Bancarella Prize (1971) for Nothing, and So Be It; Viareggio Prize (1979), for Un uomo: Romanzo; and Prix Antibes, 1993, for Inshallah. She received a D.Litt. from Columbia College (Chicago). She has lectured at the University of Chicago, Yale University, Harvard University, and Columbia University.[citation needed] Fallaci’s writings have been translated into 21 languages including English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Greek, Swedish, Polish, Croatian and Slovenian.

Fallaci was a life-long heavy smoker. She died on September 15, 2006 in her native Florence from breast cancer.

[edit] Awards

On November 30th 2005 Oriana Fallaci received in New York the Annie Taylor Award for the courage of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture. She was honored for the "heroism and the values" that rendered her «a symbol of the fight against Islamic fascism and a knight of the freedom of humankind.» The Annie Taylor Award is annually awarded to people who have demonstrated unusual courage in adverse conditions and great danger. David Horowitz, founder of the center, providing the following motivation for the award, defining Oriana Fallaci «a General in the fight for freedom».

On December 8, 2005 Oriana Fallaci was awarded the Ambrogino d'oro, the highest recognition of the city of Milan.

On a proposal of the Ministry of Education Letizia Moratti on December 14, 2005 the President of the Italian Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi awarded Oriana Fallaci a Gold Medal for her cultural contributions ("Benemerita della Cultura"). Her health conditions prevented her from attending the ceremony. She wrote a speech: «This gold medal... gratifies my efforts as writer and journalist, my front line engagement to defend our culture, love for my country and for freedom. My renown health situation prevents me to travel and receive in person this gift that for me, a woman not used to medals and not too keen on trophies, has an intense ethical and moral significance" [5].

On February 12, 2006 the Governor of Tuscany Riccardo Nencini awarded Oriana Fallaci a gold medal from the Council of Tuscany. Nencini reported that the prize was awarded as Oriana Fallaci is a beacon of Tuscan culture in the world. During the award ceremony, held in New York, the writer told about her attempt to create a caricature of Mohammed, in reply to the polemic relating to similar caricatures that had appeared in French and Dutch newspapers. She declared: «I will draw Mohammed with his 9 wives, including the little baby he married when 70 years old, the 16 concubines and a female Camel wearing a Burqa. So far my pencil stopped at the image of the Camel, but my next attempt will surely be better".

[edit] Controversy

Part of a series on
Controversies related to Islam and Muslims

Criticism of Islam

Islam · Muhammad · Qur'an · Islamism


Dhimmi · Eurabia · Islamism · Sharia
Jihad · Pan-Islamism · Qutbism
Intolerance · Hate Crimes
Divisions of the world in Islam
Persecution of Bahá'ís
Persecution of Shia Muslims
Freedom of religion in Iran
Religious minorities in Iran
First Sikh Holocaust (1746)


Apostasy in Islam
Islam and antisemitism
Islamic terrorism
Homosexuality and Islam
The Satanic Verses controversy

Islam and women's status

Women in Islam
Islam and domestic violence
Namus · Honor killing
Death by stoning

Notable modern critics

Ayaan Hirsi Ali · Irshad Manji
Daniel Pipes · Ibn Warraq
Philippe de Villiers · Geert Wilders · Oriana Fallaci
Robert Spencer · Theo van Gogh
Afshin Ellian · Salman Rushdie
Ahmad Kasravi ·

Muslim related events since 2001

September 11 attacks
War on Terrorism
Mecca girls' school fire
Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons
Qur'an desecration controversy
Beheadings of three Christian girls
CPT hostage crisis
Fox journalists kidnapping
Egyptian ID card controversy
Qatif girl rape case
Flying Imams controversy
French headscarf ban
Imam Rapito affair
Knighthood of Salman Rushdie
Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy
Sudanese teddy bear blasphemy case
Muhammad cartoons
Fitna (film)
The Jewel of Medina

In recent years, she received much public attention for her controversial comments on Islam and European Muslims. This point of view was expressed in two bestselling books, The Rage and The Pride (initially a four-page article in Corriere della Sera, the major national newspaper in Italy) and The Force of Reason. Both agreement and disagreements have been published on Italian newspapers (among which La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera had a series of articles) as well as David Holcberg at the Ayn Rand Institute supported her cause with a letter to The Washington Times.[6]

Fallaci received support in Italy, where her books have sold over one million copies, but also from individuals and organisations in the rest of the world.[7][8] At the first European Social Forum, which was held in Florence in November 2002, Fallaci invited the people of Florence to cease commercial operations and stay home. Furthermore, she compared the ESF to the Nazi occupation of Florence. Protest organizers declared "We have done it for Oriana, because she hasn't spoken in public for the last 12 years, and hasn't been laughing in the last 50".[9]

In 2002 in Switzerland the Islamic Center and the Somal Association of Geneva, SOS Racisme of Lausanne, along with a private citizen, sued her for the allegedly "racist" content of The Rage and The Pride.[10][11] In November 2002 a Swiss judge issued an arrest warrant for violations of article 261 and 261 bis of the Swiss criminal code and requested the Italian government to either try or extradite or prosecute her. Roberto Castelli, Italian minister of Justice rejected the request on the grounds that the Constitution of Italy protects freedom of speech and thus the extradition request was to be rejected.[12]

In May 2005, Adel Smith, president of the Union of Italian Muslims, launched a lawsuit against Fallaci charging that "some of the things she said in her book The Force of Reason are offensive to Islam." Smith's attorney cited a phrase from the book that refers to Islam as "a pool that never purifies." Consequently an Italian judge ordered her to stand trial set for June 2006 in Bergamo on charges of "defaming Islam." A previous prosecutor had sought dismissal of the charges. The preliminary trial began on 12 June in Bergamo and on 25 June Judge Beatrice Siccardi decided that Oriana Fallaci should indeed stand trial beginning on 18 December.[13] Fallaci accused the judge of having disregarded the fact that Smith called for her murder and defamed Christianity.[14]

On 3 June 2005, Fallaci published on the front page of the Italian daily newspaper a highly controversial article entitled "Noi Cannibali e i figli di Medea" ("We cannibals and Medea's offspring") inviting women not to vote for a public referendum about artificial insemination that was held on June 12 and 13, 2006.[15]

On 27 August 2005, Fallaci had a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI at Castel Gandolfo. Although an atheist, Fallaci reportedly had great respect for Pope Benedict XVI and expressed admiration for his 2004 essay titled "If Europe Hates Itself".[16][17]

In the June 2006 issue of Reason Magazine, libertarian writer Cathy Young wrote:

Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci’s 2002 book The Rage and the Pride makes hardly any distinction between radical Islamic terrorists and Somali street vendors who supposedly urinate on the corners of Italy’s great cities. Christopher Hitchens, who described the book in The Atlantic as “a sort of primer in how not to write about Islam,” notes that Fallaci’s diatribes have all the marks of other infamous screeds about filthy, disease-ridden, sexually threatening aliens.[18]

[edit] Bibliography

  • The Seven Sins of Hollywood preface by Orson Welles, Longanesi (Milan), 1958.
  • The Useless Sex: Voyage around the Woman Horizon Press (New York City), 1961.
  • Penelope at War 1962 (London).
  • Limelighters 1963.
  • The Egotists: Sixteen Surprising Interviews Regnery (Chicago), 1968.
  • Quel giorno sulla Luna Rizzoli, 1970.
  • Interview With History, a collection of interviews with various political figures Liveright, 1976.
  • A Man, a novel about a hero who fights alone for freedom and for truth, never giving up, and so he dies, killed by all. (1979) ISBN 8427938543
  • Inshallah, a fictional account of Italian troops stationed in Lebanon in 1983.
  • If the Sun Dies, about the US space program.
  • Letter to a Child Never Born, a dialogue between a mother and her unborn child.
  • Nothing, and so be it, report on the Vietnam war based on personal experiences.
  • The Rage and The Pride An expose on Islam. Original title La Rabbia e l'Orgoglio, Publisher: Rizzoli, December 2001. ISBN 0847825043.
  • The Force of Reason (La Forza della Ragione) Publisher: Rizzoli, April 2004. ISBN 0847827534
  • Oriana Fallaci intervista Oriana Fallaci, Fallaci interviews herself on the subject of "Eurabia" and "Islamofacism". (Milan: Corriere della Sera, August 2004).
  • Oriana Fallaci intervista sé stessa - L'Apocalisse (in Italian). An update of the interview with herself. A new, long epilogue is added. Publisher: Rizzoli, November 2004.
  • Un cappello pieno di ciliege, Rizzoli, 2008. A novel about history of her ancestors, published two years after her death. Oriana Fallaci worked at it for ten years, until September 11th attacks and the publication of her works inspired by them.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Guardian, most sources indicate Fallaci was born on 29 June, but some sources indicate 24 July)
  2. ^ a b c "The Agitator: Oriana Fallaci directs her fury toward Islam", Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, June 5, 2006.
  3. ^ Arico, Santo L. Oriana Fallaci: The Woman and the Myth,p. 26. 1998, Southern Illinois University. ISBN 080932153X
  4. ^ Fallaci, Oriana. Interview with History, p.40-41. Translated by John Shepley. 1976, Liveright Press. ISBN 0871405903
  5. ^ "Questa medaglia d'oro mi commuove perché gratifica la mia fatica di scrittore e di giornalista, il mio impegno a difesa della nostra cultura, il mio amore per il mio Paese e per la Libertà. Le attuali e ormai note ragioni di salute mi impediscono di viaggiare e ritirare direttamente un omaggio che per me, donna poco abituata alle medaglie e poco incline ai trofei, ha un intenso significato etico e morale»
  6. ^ Oriana Fallaci and Freedom of Speech, letter to the Washington Times by David Holcberg of the Ayn Rand Institute, publ. June 1, 2005.
  7. ^ Italy has a racist culture, says French editor, The Guardian, August 8, 2004.
  8. ^ Oriana in Exile, The American Spectator, July 18, 2005.
  9. ^ Sabina Guzzanti became Fallaci, La Repubblica, November 8, 2002
  10. ^ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Switzerland 2002, United States Department of State, March 31, 2003
  11. ^ Swiss Muslims File Suit Over "Racist" Fallaci Book, from The Milli Gazette, July 1, 2002.
  12. ^ Excerpts from The force of Reason.
  13. ^ Fallaci, the trial continues in December, L'Eco di Bergamo, June 26, 2006.
  14. ^ Il nemico che trattiamo da amico - Corriere della Sera
  15. ^ We cannibals and Medea's offspring, by Oriana Fallaci, June 2005.
  16. ^ Phi Beta Cons on National Review Online
  17. ^ Prophet of Decline, The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2005.
  18. ^ The Jihad Against Muslims: When does criticism of Islam devolve into bigotry?, from Reason magazine, June 2006.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Articles by Fallaci

  • Rage & Pride by Oriana Fallaci, English translation by Letizia Grasso, from the four-page essay "La Rabbia e l'Orgoglio", that appeared in Italy's leading newspaper Corriere della Sera on 29 September, 2001. (Note that the official edition by Rizzoli, is translated by Fallaci herself)
  • Rage and Pride, as translated by Chris Knipp
  • On Jew-Hatred in Europe, by Columnist Oriana Fallaci, IMRA - 25 April, 2002 (Originally published in Italian in the Panorama magazine, 17 April, 2002).

Articles about Fallaci

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