Great hacks of our time (2): Oriana Fallaci

Remember the Ayatollah? Back in 1979:

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 !.

Alistair Darling's uncle
The divine Ms Fallaci

At which point she did indeed discard her chador.

Ms Fallaci was a one-off. A brave, prescient woman, as well as being a well-connected glamorous international no-bullshit journalist. Her life story is at times ridiculously theatrical, but The Knife admires her most for her work near the end of her life. She foresaw the kind of islamic aggression in Europe that lead to the murder of Theo van Gogh, and did something about it.

Her articles and books after September 11th, most notably The Rage and the Pride were the early stirrings of the kind of counter-reformation that may be required to combat islamofascism, and she is a noble precursor in this respect of our own Melanie Phillips.

The Rage and the Pride sold 1.5 million copies and had a huge impact in Italy. I got my copy – in Fallaci’s own English translation – at Rome airport, where it was prominently displayed 5 years after it was first published. She tirelessly promoted this cause in the media, and took a lot of predictable criticism, much of it because she was daring to state, uncompromisingly, what everyone else was thinking. Un-PC in excelsis!

An atheist who became a friend of the current pope, she had an arrest warrant issued by an attention-seeking Italian judge, alleging racism and similar crimes. By this point her cigarette habit had given her terminal cancer, and she gloriously dismissed the contrived charges as being of no import to a dying woman. She continued to travel to Italy (and nobody arrested her), and delivered a forceful counterblast to the now cringing judge,  pointing out that the president of the Union of Italian Muslims had in fact called for her murder and defamed Christianity.

Her obituary reveals a quite remarkable life, and this footnote seems entirely typical of  someone for whom the extraordinary would be almost mundane.

What a woman.


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