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Italy, Islam and the Islamic World

Representations and Reflections, from 9/11 to the Arab Uprisings


Charles Burdett

The recent emergence and increasing visibility of Islam as Italy’s second religion is an issue of undeniable importance. It has generated an intense and often polarized debate that has involved all the cultural, political and religious institutions of the country and some of its most vocal and controversial cultural figures. This study examines some of the most significant voices that have made themselves heard in defining Italy’s relationship with Islam and with the Islamic world, in a period of remarkable geopolitical and cultural upheaval from 9/11 to the Arab Spring. It looks in detail at the nature of the arguments that writers, journalists and intellectuals have adduced regarding Islam and at the connections and disjunctions between opposing positions. It examines how events such as military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq or the protests in Tahrir Square have been represented within Italy and it analyses the rhetorical framework within which the issue of the emergence of Islam as an internal actor within Italian civil society has been articulated.


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Chapter 1. 9/11: The Islamic World as Other in Oriana Fallaci’s ‘Trilogy’


Chapter 1 9/11: The Islamic World as Other in Oriana Fallaci’s ‘Trilogy’ Today […] everyone senses there is a serious threat, primarily due to a retreat from knowledge and a misunderstanding of the other. — mustapha chérif The first part of what is now generally known as Oriana Fallaci’s ‘trilogy’ on the significance of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 was initially published on 29 September 2001 in the pages of the Corriere della Sera: it was at the invitation of Ferruccio De Bortoli, the then editor of the paper, that she wrote her reflections on the meaning and the probable ramifica- tions of 9/11.1 Shortly after the appearance of her extended article in the Corriere, a book length version of her views was published by the publishing house Rizzoli in December 2001 with the title, La rabbia e l’orgoglio [The Rage and the Pride].2 The second text of the trilogy was initially intended to be a kind of post-script, written two years after the publication of La rabbia e l’orgoglio, but the text expanded into book form and was pub- lished as La forza della ragione [The Force of Reason] in April 2004. The book explored the expansion of the Islamic world through migration, the responses of various European governments to the question and the likely effects on the development of Western culture in the longer term. The final part of the trilogy, entitled Oriana Fallaci intervista Oriana Fallaci [Oriana Fallaci Interviewed by Oriana Fallaci], appeared in September...

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