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Author on trial for defaming Islam

Italian author and veteran journalist Oriana Fallaci faces trial in Italy after being accused of defaming Islam in a 2004 book.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2006 18:49 IST

The trial of Italian author and veteran journalist Oriana Fallaci, accused of defaming Islam in a 2004 book, opened Monday in northern Italy and was quickly adjourned, a lawyer said. Fallaci, who lives in New York, did not attend the hearing in Bergamo, northern Italy.

Monday's hearing was largely devoted to technicalities, and the proceedings were adjourned to June 26, said Matteo Nicoli, a lawyer for the Muslim activist who brought the lawsuit against Fallaci. Activist Adel Smith, who also was not in court, charged that some passages in Fallaci's book, The Strength of Reason, were offensive to Islam. His lawyer cited a phrase from the book that refers to Islam as "a pool ... that never purifies."

Last year, a judge ordered that Fallaci stand trial on charges of violating an Italian law that prohibits "outrage" to religion. He cited a passage that reads: "To be under the illusion that there is a good Islam and a bad Islam or not to understand that Islam is only one ... is against reason."

Fallaci told The Associated Press last year that "I have expressed my opinion through the written word through my books, that is all." The offense with which she is charged carries a fine of up to €6,000 (US$7,500).

 
 Fallaci wrote The Rage and the Pride in response to the September 11 attacks

A former war correspondent, Fallaci has often stirred controversy with her blunt publications and provocative stances. Her most recent books have drawn accusations she incites hatred against Muslims. A group in France unsuccessfully sought to stop distribution of her best-selling essay The Rage and the Pride, written as a response to the September 11 attacks.

In The Strength of Reason, Fallaci accuses Europe of having sold its soul to what she describes as an Islamic invasion. Smith is also known for taking radical positions. He gained attention in Italy in 2003 when he sought unsuccessfully to have the crucifix removed from the public elementary school his sons attended. As head of the small Muslim Union of Italy, he has launched numerous legal battles, causing several Islamic organizations to distance themselves.