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Veteran Italian Journalist Oriana Fallaci Dies at 77


One of Italy's most well-known journalists, who in recent years took a provocative stance against Muslims and Islam, has died in Florence. Oriana Fallaci, 77, had been battling cancer for years.

Oriana Fallaci was a veteran journalist and writer, who was either loved or hated in Italy. She was an anti-Fascist resistance fighter in Italy during World War II, and later became a war correspondent, covering Vietnam and the first Gulf war.

After the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Fallaci wrote a best-selling book, The Rage and Pride. In it, she described Islam as oppressive and Arab immigrants in Europe as dirty and bigoted. The book drew widespread accusations of inciting hatred against Muslims.

In a later book, The Force of Reason, she accused Europe of having sold its soul to an Islamic invasion. She wrote that terrorists had killed 6,000 people over the past 20 years in the name of the Koran, and said that the Islamic faith sows hatred. This book caused her to stand trial on charges of defaming Islam. The trial, which opened in June, was still under way at her death.

Italian politicians and journalists from all sides praised Fallaci's courage in speaking her mind. Ferruccio de Bortoli, editor of Il Sole 24 Ore, said, "a great author and a great Italian has gone. She had the courage to express her ideas and manifested them with passion."

During her career, Fallaci interviewed some of the most influential leaders of the 20th Century, including the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Although she always declared she was an atheist, Fallaci met with Pope Benedict XVI last year. Details of their talks may never be known, but the writer praised the pope for his calls to Europeans to defend their Christian heritage.