Islam in the British broadsheets : how historically-conditioned orientalist discourses inform representations of Islam as a militant monolithic entity
From the Iranian revolution in 1979 to the London underground suicide bombings on the 7th of July 2005, the image of Islam as a militant anti-Western faith featured dominantly in the global mass media. This thesis examines the claim that the Western media representation of Islam, the second largest religion in the world with over one billion followers, is predominantly negative and demonizing. Current debates attribute this demonizing and reductive representation to the historically polarised relationship between Islam the West. Central to this argument is that the Western media in general, and the press in particular, tend to report an incomplete fragment of a rather complex situation, and represent the acts of Islamic militant movements and groups as an archetype of Islam. Few researchers used qualitative means to address the issue of representation of Islam in the media. This thesis investigates the representation of Islam in three British dailies, selected for their political different standpoints, and asks to what extent this representation is influenced by the historically conditioned Orientalist discourses that seek to construct and maintain hegemonic perceptions of Islam. The thesis argues that Islam and Muslim societies are a highly diverse reality, which is not confined only to extremism, confrontation, violence, terrorism and antagonism towards everything Western and challenges the monolithic approach that reinforces blanket generalisations, stereotypes and views of Islam/Muslims, based on the common perception of Islam as rooted in the West's self-definition as the negative `Other'. Using discourse analysis, the research seeks to deconstruct the selected news reports in order to highlight what was actually covered, and how news stories were framed and knowledge of Islam was generally produced through discourse(s) and point out that such representations are informed by specific relations of power.