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Even Arab Media Trapped By Anti-Muslim Frames

March 9, 2014

Academic PerspectiveHere’s an interesting article from the Asian Journal of Communication.

It has long been argued (including by me in my article “Making Global News”) that once frames are fully established and widely disseminated, it is extremely difficult to write outside them.

According to this article, which analyzes terrorism coverage in Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, even these news programs can’t escape the “Muslim as Terrorist” trope, which implies (falsely) that most, if not all contemporary terrorists are Muslims.

The best they can do is counter it with an additional (true) message: that the majority of victims of terrorism are Muslims.

Here’s the abstract:

This study examines the coverage of terrorism in two leading Arab news websites, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya from 11 September 2009 to 10 September 2010. It finds that the stereotype that ‘the terrorist is a Muslim’ continues in terrorism coverage, despite the fact that some terrorists are non-Muslims. However, the two sites manage to send out the message that ‘the majority of terrorism victims are Muslims.’ In addition, the findings reveal that too much media focus is placed on disseminating and supporting official positions and decisions, and humanitarian sufferings from terrorism are seldom brought to the attention of the public.


Peterson, Mark Allen. 2007.  “Making Global News: ‘Freedom of Speech’ and ‘Muslim Rage’ in U.S. Journalism”  Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life 1(3): 247-264.

Zeng, Li, and Khalaf Tahat. 2012. Picturing terrorism through Arabic lenses: a comparative analysis of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Asian Journal of Communication 22(5): 433-448

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