Thursday, June 23, 2005

Justice, Italian Style

Opinion Journal interviews the renowned Italian journalist being prosecuted for publishing a book critical of Islam. The episode illustrates the yawning gulf between US and European freedoms of speech and the sheer awfulness of Italian justice.

Oriana Fallaci faces jail because last year she published a book:

...which has sold many more than a million copies all over Europe -- called "The Force of Reason." Its astringent thesis is that the Old Continent is on the verge of becoming a dominion of Islam, and that the people of the West have surrendered themselves fecklessly to the "sons of Allah."

An activist judge in Bergamo, in northern Italy, took it upon himself to admit a complaint against Ms. Fallaci that even the local prosecutors would not touch.

The complainant, one Adel Smith -- who, despite his name, is Muslim, and an incendiary public provocateur to boot -- has a history of anti-Fallaci crankiness, and is widely believed to be behind the publication of a pamphlet, "Islam Punishes Oriana Fallaci," which exhorts Muslims to "eliminate" her.

(Ironically, Mr. Smith, too, faces the peculiar charge of vilipendio against religion -- Roman Catholicism in his case -- after he described the Catholic Church as "a criminal organization" on television. Two years ago, he made news in Italy by filing suit for the removal of crucifixes from the walls of all public-school classrooms, and also, allegedly, for flinging a crucifix out of the window of a hospital room where his mother was being treated. "My mother will not die in a room where there is a crucifix," he said, according to hospital officials.)

Which confirms that Italian justice is indeed totally politicized by "activist" (= socialist) judges.

The good news is that Oriana Fallaci is safe in New York City protected by the First Amendment. At 72, she's still a stylish Italian woman:

...stricken with a cancer that, for the moment, permits only the consumption of liquids...we drank champagne in the course of a three-hour interview...

Long may she live. And maybe Mrs G and I should abandon our Italian project.