- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

The Islamic world is engaged in a cultural war with the West and the worst is still to come, Italian author Oriana Fallaci told a receptive Washington audience last night.
Spinning off a long list of Islamic countries, she told a group of about 80 people: "The hate for the West swells like a fire fed by the wind.
"The clash between us and them is not a military one. It is a cultural one, a religious one, and the worst is still to come," she continued in what she said was her first public address in more than a decade.
Tight security was in place for the speech at the American Enterprise Institute after death threats were issued against her and her attorney as a result of her latest book, "The Rage and the Pride," which contains harsh criticism of Muslims.
The book, which she called a "sermon" to Europe, was written in New York in the two weeks after September 11 as the smoke and dust from the destruction of the World Trade Center blanketed the city.
Miss Fallaci contends in the angry polemic that the only difference between "moderate Islam" and "radical Islam" is the length of their beards.
She said last night that critics have attempted to ban the book or have her arrested in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy. The 72-year-old author described these efforts as "intellectual terrorism."
Miss Fallaci, who lives in New York and is afflicted with cancer, also criticizes Western culture for its loose morals and licentiousness.
"Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights," she said.
In her prime, Miss Fallaci was famed as a belligerent journalist and argumentative interviewer, who had unprecedented access to the world's most reclusive and wary leaders.
A partisan in the Italian resistance in World War II and a lifelong leftist, she once became so disgusted while interviewing Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that she ripped off her head scarf and threw it in his face.
The act of defiance was considered an unpardonable sin in the ayatollah's Iran.
"The Rage and the Pride," originally published in an Italian newspaper and then as a book, has sold more than 1 million copies in Italy and has been popular in Germany and France as well. All three nations have large Muslim immigrant populations.
Variously praised as the painful truth or decried as a "bigoted, anti-Muslim screed," Miss Fallaci's book is under threat of judicial action in France for inciting racial hatred.
A lawsuit brought by the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between People, a Muslim human rights group, is demanding that the book be banned in France.
In a ruling yesterday that may affect her case, a French court acquitted best-selling French author Michel Houellebecq of charges of racial insult and inciting racial hatred for calling Islam the "dumbest religion."
The Paris court threw out the case brought by officials from the main mosques in Paris and the central-eastern city of Lyon and other Muslim groups after an interview Mr. Houellebecq gave to the French literary magazine Lire.
"The dumbest religion, after all, is Islam," he told the magazine. "When you read the Koran, you're shattered. The Bible at least is beautifully written because the Jews have a heck of a literary talent."
While the court ruled that the 44-year-old author's comments were "without a doubt characterized by neither a particularly noble outlook nor by the subtlety of their phrasing," they did not constitute a punishable offense.
While Mr. Houellebecq indeed had expressed hatred for Islam as a religion, the court said, he had not expressed hatred for Muslims, nor did he encourage others to share his views or discriminate against Muslims.
Miss Fallaci, in her first book in more than 10 years, said she was prompted to write by demonstrations throughout the Muslim world and in pockets of Europe celebrating the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Her anger, based on years of reporting in Muslim countries, is evident. Her detractors call the work an incitement to kill Muslims.
Unrepentant, Miss Fallaci calls the downing of the Twin Towers an act of cultural war and says the superior Western civilization must stand up and defeat Islam.
"War you wanted, war you want? Good. As far as I am concerned, war it is and war it will be. Until the last breath," she writes.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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