How symbolic is it that Oriana Fallaci, Italian journalist and author, passed away on the same week that Pope Benedict made his remarks about Islam, sparking the fury of Muslims worldwide and forcing him to make several public apologies to soothe the "hurt feelings" of the world's second-biggest religion.
Fallaci made her reputation in the 70s and 80s as a no-nonsense journalist who interviewed the world's leaders and put them on the spot time and again. In recent years she made headlines mostly as a result of her tireless tirades against the Islamisation of Europe (or "Eurabia" in her words). I recently read her last book "La Forza della Ragione" ("The Force of Reason"), which is a follow-up to her post-9/11 book "The Rage and the Pride". In "Reason", Fallaci tells the readers about the numerous death threats she received as a result of her comments in the first book. She identifies herself with Master Cecco, who was put to the stake by the Inquisition on account of his beliefs and heretical writings. Fallaci writes with passion but does not allow this passion to shadow the "force of reason" when examining the trends in her homeland. She writes in the first person, often addressing the reader directly, and I found her Italian to be fascinating and rich.
By now Pope Benedict and the Vatican msut have apologised perhaps seven times for daring to quote some obscure Byzantine emperor's views about the violent nature of Islam. I wonder how many of the offended Muslims, who attacked Christians and burnt down churches, paused to think how by their actions they are proving the accuracy of the Byzantine emperor's observations...
An appropriate epilogue to this post is this link to an article by Sam Harris in the LA Times this week. As Harris puts it, "a cult of death is forming in the Muslim world". Five years after 9/11, the Al Qaeda attack on the US is sadly proving to be only a prelude to the real war still ahead of us all.