Frail, slight, and dying of cancer, Oriana Fallaci told a Manhattan audience on Monday that she hates Islam and fears that Muslim immigration poses a greater danger to the West than Islamic terrorism.
The Italian journalist and author, who came out of retirement after September 11, 2001, to sound the tocsin on what she viewed was a clash of civilizations, said in a lengthy speech that she doesn't believe in the existence of moderate Islam.
"There is no such thing as good Islam," she said, crouching over a microphone, her voice tobacco-cured, her English heavily accented. She compared the Koran, the Islamic holy book, to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and said she opposed the notion of dialogue between followers of Islam and other religions.
While denouncing the political left, she placed blame on the Bush administration for supporting Turkey's entrance into the European Union. She described herself as a "revolutionary," as someone who understands that it is important "to say no" to appeasement.
The books she's written since September 11, "The Rage and the Pride," "The Force of Reason," and a still untranslated book in which she interviews herself, have been best-sellers in her country and have won her throngs of admirers and enemies. Before September 11, she was best known as a war correspondent and for her interviews with world leaders and celebrities, whom she questioned with terrifying aggressiveness.
She spoke with the same intensity and hatred for Islam that has gotten her into legal trouble in her native land. An Italian judge in June indicted Ms. Fallaci, charging her with violating the country's blasphemy statutes and ordering her to stand trial next year. Ms. Fallaci lives in New York.
Ms. Fallaci said she has the right to hate. "Hate is a sentiment, a reaction, a feeling. Hate belongs to human nature," she said. "If I have the right to love, then I have and must have the right to hate."
Among the few she praised was Pope Benedict XVI, who invited her for a private meeting in August. "I see an unexpected ally in Ratzinger," she said. She was often critical of Pope John Paul II for his attempts to engage the Islamic world.
Ms. Fallaci, 76, spoke before a conservative group that was honoring her with an award named after Annie Taylor, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
"We are gathered here tonight to honor a warrior in the cause of human freedom," said author David Horowitz, a conservative activist who is the president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, which presented her with the award. She received a standing ovation when she was introduced and slightly less enthusiastic applause when she finished speaking. Some of the audience had left during her speech.
Asked about her opinions on Islam after the speech, Mr. Horowitz said, "I gave her a platform" and that he was less pessimistic than she is about moderate Islam. Middle East scholar and New York Sun columnist, Daniel Pipes, who was also in the audience, said he appreciated her "spirit" but said her position was too extreme. "It's not a war on Islam, it's a war on Islamism, a radical, utopian ideology," Mr. Pipes said.