Tuesday, May 24, 2005

From combined dispatches

ROME — Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, who has made waves by denouncing Islam in her books, is to face trial for purportedly insulting the Muslim faith in her latest work, a court in Northern Italy ruled yesterday.

A judge refused a request by prosecutors to throw out the case, brought by the president of the Muslim Union of Italy, Adel Smith, and ordered magistrates to proceed in the matter, Agence France-Presse reported.

The magistrates have until tomorrow to formally charge Miss Fallaci, the author of “The Rage and the Pride,” a post-September 11 polemic over the dangers of Islamic extremism, with “insulting religion.”

The accusations stem from her last book called “La Forza della Ragione,” (“The Force of Reason”). Mr. Smith says the book — not yet available in English — contains “words that are without doubt offensive toward Islam.”

Miss Fallaci, who is known for her provocative style of writing, got into trouble two weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, when she published the strongly pro-American and anti-Islam book “The Rage and the Pride.”

Miss Fallaci, 74, who lives in New York, writes in her latest book that Europe is turning into “an Islamic province, an Islamic colony” and that “to believe that a good Islam and a bad Islam exist goes against all reason.”

The attorney for the Muslim Union, Ugo Fanuzzi, said Miss Fallaci would have to answer first to the charge of insulting a religious faith, but he did not exclude that she could face charges of inciting hatred of religions.

Miss Fallaci was sued in 2002 over “The Rage and the Pride” in a French court and accused of violating anti-racist laws. The case was dismissed on a technicality.

Speaking to a Washington audience in October 2002, Miss Fallaci said the Islamic world is engaged in a cultural war with the West.

“The hate for the West swells like a fire fed by the wind,” she said. “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.”

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 “The Rage and the Pride.”

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.

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