Oriana Fallaci

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Oriana Fallaci
Oriana Fallaci 2.jpg
Born(1929-06-29)29 June 1929
Florence, Italy
Died15 September 2006(2006-09-15) (aged 77)
Florence, Italy
Resting place Cimitero degli Allori, Florence
Occupation Journalist, author, political interviewer

Oriana Fallaci (Italian:  [oˈrjaːna falˈlaːtʃi] ; 29 June 1929 – 15 September 2006) was an Italian journalist, author, and political interviewer. A partisan during World War II, she had a long and successful journalistic career. Fallaci became famous worldwide for her coverage of war and revolution, and her interviews with many world leaders during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Journalist person who collects, writes and distributes news and other information

A journalist is a person who collects, writes, or distributes news or other current information to the public. A journalist's work is called journalism. A journalist can work with general issues or specialize in certain issues. However, most journalists tend to specialize, and by cooperating with other journalists, produce journals that span many topics. For example, a sports journalist covers news within the world of sports, but this journalist may be a part of a newspaper that covers many different topics.

Italian resistance movement Italian combatant organizations opposed to Nazi Germany and Mussolini

The Italian resistance movement is an umbrella term for Italian resistance groups during World War II. It was opposed to the forces of Nazi Germany as well as their puppet state local regime, the Italian Social Republic, especially following the German military occupation of Italy between September 1943 and April 1945, though the resistance to the Fascist Italian government began even prior to World War II. The movement that rose among Italians of various social classes is also known as the Italian resistance and the Italian partisans, and the brutal conflict they took part in is referred to as the Italian Liberation War or as the Italian Civil War. The modern Italian Republic was declared to be founded on the struggle of the Resistance.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.


Her book Interview with History contains interviews with Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Yasser Arafat, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Willy Brandt, Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and Henry Kissinger, South Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, and North Vietnamese General Võ Nguyên Giáp during the Vietnam War. The interview with Kissinger was published in Playboy , with Kissinger describing himself as "the cowboy who leads the wagon train by riding ahead alone on his horse". Kissinger later wrote that it was "the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press". [1] She also interviewed Deng Xiaoping, Andreas Papandreou, Ayatollah Khomeini, Haile Selassie, Lech Wałęsa, Muammar Gaddafi, Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba, Mário Soares, Alfred Hitchcock, and many others.

<i>Interview with History</i> book by Oriana Fallaci

Interview with History is a book consisting of interviews by the Italian journalist and author Oriana Fallaci (1929–2006), one of the most controversial interviewers of her time. She interviewed many world leaders of the time.

Indira Gandhi Third Prime Minister of India

Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi was an Indian politician, stateswoman and a central figure of the Indian National Congress. She was the first and, to date, the only female Prime Minister of India. Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. She served as Prime Minister from January 1966 to March 1977 and again from January 1980 until her assassination in October 1984, making her the second longest-serving Indian Prime Minister, after her father.

Golda Meir fourth prime minister of Israel

Golda Meir was an Israeli teacher, kibbutznik, stateswoman, politician and the fourth Prime Minister of Israel.

After retirement, she returned to the spotlight after writing a series of controversial articles and books critical of Islam that aroused condemnation as well as support.

Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic, universal religion teaching that there is only one God, and that Muhammad is the messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers or 24% of the world's population, most commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, viewed by Muslims as the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples of Muhammad.

The resistance movement

Fallaci was born in Florence, Italy, on 29 June 1929. [2] 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. Despite her youth, during World War II she joined the Italian anti-fascist resistance movement, Giustizia e Libertà , part of Resistenza . She later received a certificate for valour from the Italian army. [3] In a 1976 retrospective collection of her works, she remarked that:

Florence Capital and most populous city of the Italian region of Tuscany

Florence is a city in central Italy and the capital city of the of Tuscany region. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.

Activism efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, religious, economic, or environmental change, or stasis

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society. Forms of activism range from mandate building in the community, petitioning elected officials, running or contributing to a political campaign, preferential patronage of businesses, and demonstrative forms of activism like rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, or hunger strikes.

Dictatorship form of autocratic government led by a single individual

A dictatorship is an authoritarian form of government, characterized by a single leader or group of leaders with either no party or a weak party, little mass mobilization, and limited political pluralism. According to other definitions, democracies are regimes in which "those who govern are selected through contested elections"; therefore dictatorships are "not democracies". With the advent of the 19th and 20th centuries, dictatorships and constitutional democracies emerged as the world's two major forms of government, gradually eliminating monarchies, one of the traditional widespread forms of government of the time. Typically, in a dictatorial regime, the leader of the country is identified with the title of dictator, although their formal title may more closely resemble something similar to "leader". A common aspect that characterized dictatorship is taking advantage of their strong personality, usually by suppressing freedom of thought and speech of the masses, in order to maintain complete political and social supremacy and stability. Dictatorships and totalitarian societies generally employ political propaganda to decrease the influence of proponents of alternative governing systems.

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. [4]

Beginning as a journalist

Fallaci began her career in journalism during her teens, becoming a special correspondent for the Italian paper Il mattino dell'Italia centrale in 1946. [5] Beginning in 1967, she worked as a war correspondent covering Vietnam, the Indo-Pakistani War, the Middle East, and in South America.

Vietnam Country in Southeast Asia

Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula. With an estimated 94.6 million inhabitants as of 2016, it is the 15th most populous country in the world. Vietnam shares its land borders with China to the north, and Laos and Cambodia to the west. It shares its maritime borders with Thailand through the Gulf of Thailand, and the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia through the South China Sea. Its capital city is Hanoi, while its most populous city is Ho Chi Minh City.

Since the partition of British India in 1947 and creation of dominions of India and Pakistan, the two countries have been involved in a number of wars, conflicts and military stand-offs. The Kashmir issue has been the main cause of all major conflicts between the two countries with the exception of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 where conflict originated due to turmoil in erstwhile East Pakistan.


For many years, Fallaci was a special correspondent for the political magazine L'Europeo , and wrote for a number of leading newspapers and the magazine Epoca . In Mexico City, during the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, Fallaci was shot three times by Mexican soldiers, dragged downstairs by her hair, and left for dead. Her eyewitness account became important evidence disproving the Mexican government's denials that a massacre had taken place. [6]


In the early 1970s, Fallaci had a relationship 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 on 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 his life.

During her 1972 interview with Henry Kissinger, Kissinger stated 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". [7] Kissinger later claimed that it was "the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press". [8] In 1973, she interviewed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. [9] She later stated, "He considers women simply as graceful ornaments, incapable of thinking like a man, and then strives to give them complete equality of rights and duties". [9]

Fallaci in Tehran (1979). To interview the Ayatollah Khomeini, she was required to wear a chador. During the interview, she removed it and attacked the obligation of women to wear it. Oriana Fallaci in Tehran 1979.jpg
Fallaci in Tehran (1979). To interview the Ayatollah Khomeini, she was required to wear a chador. During the interview, she removed it and attacked the obligation of women to wear it.

During her 1979 interview with Ayatollah Khomeini, she addressed him as a "tyrant", and managed to unveil herself from the chador:

OF: I still have to ask you a lot of things. About the "chador", for example, which I was obliged to wear to come and interview you, and which you impose on Iranian women.... I am not only referring to the dress, but to what it represents, I mean the apartheid Iranian women have been forced into after the revolution. They cannot study at the university with men, they cannot work with men, they cannot swim in the sea or in a swimming-pool with men. They have to do everything separately, wearing their "chador". By the way, how can you swim wearing a "chador"?

AK: None of this concerns you, our customs do not concern you. If you don't like the Islamic dress, you are not obliged to wear it, since it is for young women and respectable ladies.
OF: This is very kind of you, Imam, since you tell me that, I'm going to immediately rid myself of this stupid medieval rag. There! [10]


Living in New York City and in a house she owned in Tuscany, Fallaci lectured at the University of Chicago, Yale University, Harvard University, and Columbia University. [11]

After 9/11

Oriana Fallaci in 1987 O. Fallaci 1 (Foto di GianAngelo Pistoia).jpg
Oriana Fallaci in 1987

After September 11, 2001, Fallaci wrote three books critical of Islamic extremists and Islam in general, and in both writing and interviews warned that Europe was "too tolerant of Muslims". The first book was The Rage and the Pride (initially a four-page article in Corriere della Sera , the major national newspaper in Italy). She wrote that "sons of Allah breed like rats", and in a Wall Street Journal interview in 2005, she said that Europe was no longer Europe but "Eurabia". [12] The Rage and the Pride and The Force of Reason both became bestsellers.

Her writings have been translated into 21 languages, including English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Urdu, Greek, Swedish, Polish, Hungarian, Hebrew, Romanian, Serbo-Croatian, Persian, Slovenian, Danish, and Bulgarian.


Cimitero degli Allori, Oriana Fallaci Cimitero degli Allori, Oriana Fallaci.jpg
Cimitero degli Allori, Oriana Fallaci

Fallaci died on 15 September 2006, in her native Florence, from cancer. She was buried in the Cimitero Evangelico degli Allori in the southern suburb of Florence, Galluzzo, alongside her family members and a stone memorial to Alexandros Panagoulis, her late companion.


Fallaci twice received the St. Vincent Prize for journalism (1967, 1971). She also received the Bancarella Prize (1970) 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).

On 30 November 2005, in New York City, Fallaci received the Annie Taylor Award for courage from 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, described Fallaci as "a General in the fight for freedom". On 8 December 2005, Fallaci was awarded the Ambrogino d'oro ([Golden Ambrogino]), the highest recognition of the city of Milan. She also received the Jan Karski Eagle Award.

Acting on a proposal by Minister of Education Letizia Moratti, on 14 December 2005, the President of the Italian Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, awarded Fallaci a Gold Medal for her cultural contributions (Benemerita della Cultura). The state of her health prevented her from attending the ceremony. She wrote in a speech: "This gold medal moves me because it gratifies my efforts as writer and journalist, my front line engagement to defend our culture, love for my country and for freedom. My current well known health situation prevents me from traveling and receiving 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". [13]

On 12 February 2006, the President of Tuscany, Riccardo Nencini, awarded Fallaci a gold medal from the Council of Tuscany. Nencini reported that the prize was awarded as Fallaci was a beacon of Tuscan culture in the world.[ citation needed ] During the award ceremony, held in New York City, the writer talked 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".[ citation needed ]

America Award of the Italy–USA Foundation in 2010 (in memory). [14]


Fallaci received much public attention for her controversial writings and statements on Islam and European Muslims. Fallaci considered Islamic fundamentalism to be a revival of the fascism she fought against in her youth, that politicians in Europe were misunderstanding the threat of Islam in the same way that their 1930s equivalents misunderstood the threat of German fascism; she denied that "moderate Islam" actually existed, calling it a mendacity. [15] Both support and opposition have been published in Italian newspapers (among which, La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera had a series of articles), and David Holcberg, at the Ayn Rand Institute, supported her cause with a letter to The Washington Times . [16]

Fallaci received criticism as well as support in Italy, where her books have sold over one million copies. [17] [18] 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". [19]

In 2002, in Switzerland, the Islamic Center and the Somal Association of Geneva, SOS Racisme of Lausanne, along with a private citizen, sued Fallaci for the allegedly racist content of The Rage and The Pride. [20] [21] 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 prosecute or extradite her. Italian Minister of Justice Roberto Castelli rejected the request on the grounds that the Constitution of Italy protects freedom of speech. [22]

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 18 phrases, most notably a reference to Islam as "a pool that never purifies". [23] [24] Consequently, an Italian judge ordered Fallaci to stand trial in Bergamo on charges of "defaming Islam". The preliminary trial began on 12 June, and on 25 June, Judge Beatrice Siccardi decided that Fallaci should indeed stand trial beginning on 18 December. [25] Fallaci accused the judge of having disregarded the fact that Smith had called for her murder and defamed Christianity. [26]

In France, some Arab-Muslim and anti-defamation organisations such as MRAP and Ligue des Droits de l'Homme launched lawsuits against Oriana Fallaci, charging that The Rage and the Pride and The Force of Reason (La Rage et l'Orgueil and La Force de la Raison in their French versions) were "offensive to Islam" and "racist". [24] Her lawyer, Gilles William Goldnadel, [27] president of the France-Israel Organization, was also Alexandre del Valle's lawyer during similar lawsuits against del Valle.

Fallaci became, in her last years, staunchly socially conservative, opposing abortion (except for rape), euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and gay adoptions. [15]

On 3 June 2005, Fallaci had published on the front page of an Italian daily newspaper a highly controversial article titled "Noi Cannibali e i figli di Medea " ("We cannibals and Medea's offspring"), urging women not to vote for a public referendum about artificial insemination that was held on 12 and 13 June 2006. [28]

On 27 August 2005, Fallaci had a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI at Castel Gandolfo. Although an atheist, [29] Fallaci reportedly had great respect for the Pope and expressed admiration for his 2004 essay titled "If Europe Hates Itself". [30] [31] Despite being an atheist, in The Force of Reason , she claimed that she was also a "Christian atheist". [32]

In the June 2006 issue of Reason , 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, writing in The Atlantic , called the book "a sort of primer in how not to write about Islam", describing it as "replete with an obsessive interest in excrement, disease, sexual mania, and insectlike reproduction, insofar as these apply to Muslims in general and to Muslim immigrants in Europe in particular". [33]


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  1. Cristina De Stefano, The Interview that Became Henry Kissinger’s “Most Disastrous Decision”: How Oriana Fallaci Became the Most Feared Political Interviewer in the World, lithub.com. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  2. The Guardian, most sources indicate Fallaci was born on 29 June, but some sources indicate 24 July
  3. "Oriana Fallaci Official site". Oriana-fallaci.com. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  4. The New Yorker. F-R Publishing Corporation. 1975. p. 229. Retrieved 27 March 2013. Out of that experience there came a literal xenophobia. ... Colonel George Papadopoulos, who became Prime Minister and later President under the junta, said his purpose was to recreate the Greece of the Christian Greeks — "Ellas Elllnon ...
  5. Arico, Santo L. (1998). Oriana Fallaci: The Woman and the Myth. Southern Illinois University. p. 26. ISBN   0-8093-2153-X.
  6. "The Agitator: Oriana Fallaci directs her fury toward Islam", Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker , 5 June 2006.
  7. Fallaci, Oriana. Interview with History, p.40-41. Translated by John Shepley. 1976, Liveright Press. ISBN   0-87140-590-3
  8. Adam Bernstein (15 September 2006). "Reporter-Provocateur Oriana Fallaci". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  9. 1 2 Jerome, Carole (1 September 1980). "Back to the Veil". New Internationalist (091). Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  10. OF – La prego, Imam: devo chiederle ancora molte cose. Di questo "chador" a esempio, che mi hanno messo addosso per venire da lei e che lei impone alle donne,[...] non mi riferisco soltanto a un indumento ma a ciò che esso rappresenta: cioè la segregazione in cui le donne sono state rigettate dopo la Rivoluzione. Il fatto stesso che non possano studiare all'università con gli uomini, ad esempio, né lavorare con gli uomini, né fare il bagno in mare o in piscina con gli uomini. Devono tuffarsi a parte con il "chador". A proposito, come si fa a nuotare con il "chador"? AK – Tutto questo non la riguarda. I nostri costumi non vi riguardano. Se la veste islamica non le piace, non è obbligata a portarla. Perché la veste islamica è per le donne giovani e perbene. OF – Molto gentile. E, visto che mi dice così, mi tolgo subito questo stupido cencio da medioevo. Ecco fatto. Oriana Fallaci, intervista a Khomeini, Corriere della Sera, 26 September 1979
  11. Chamy, Israel (2007). Fighting Suicide Bombing: A Worldwide Campaign for Life. Greenwood. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  12. "Oriana Fallaci, Incisive Italian Journalist, Is Dead at 77," Ian Fisher, The New York Times , 16 September 2006.
  13. "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".
  14. "America Award" Italy–USA Foundation
  15. 1 2 The Agitator / Oriana Fallaci directs her fury toward Islam/ by Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 5 June 2006
  16. Oriana Fallaci and Freedom of Speech, letter to The Washington Times by David Holcberg of the Ayn Rand Institute, 1 June 2005.
  17. Italy has a racist culture, says French editor, The Guardian , 8 August 2004.
  18. Oriana in Exile Archived 11 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine , The American Spectator , 18 July 2005.
  19. Sabina Guzzanti became Fallaci, La Repubblica, 8 November 2002.
  20. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Switzerland 2002, United States Department of State, 31 March 2003
  21. Swiss Muslims File Suit Over "Racist" Fallaci Book, from The Milli Gazette, 1 July 2002.
  22. "The force of Reason'". Padania (in Italian). Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  23. "Oriana Fallaci Trial Begins in Italy". Never yet melted. 12 June 2006. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  24. 1 2 "French Court Throws Out Lawsuit on Anti-Islam Book". Icare. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  25. Fallaci, the trial continues in December, L'Eco di Bergamo , 26 June 2006.
  26. "Il nemico che trattiamo da amico". Corriere della Sera. 15 September 2006. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  27. Caldwell, Christopher (1 October 2002). "The Fallaci Affair". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  28. "We cannibals and Medea's offspring", Oriana Fallaci, June 2005. Archived 23 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  29. Gianni Pasquarelli, I naturali sentieri della tranquillità, Rubbettino Editore, 2004, p. 132.
  30. Phi Beta Cons on National Review Online Archived 8 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  31. Prophet of Decline, The Wall Street Journal , 23 June 2005.
  32. "Oriana Fallaci (1929-2006), Italian journalist, atheist and feminist, who was anti-Islam, also said she was a Christian atheist". Anti-Sharia. 13 November 2011. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  33. Holy Writ, The Atlantic, June 2006.

Articles by Fallaci

Articles about Fallaci