[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) is pleased to present the PRAR Bouquet, a curated selection from our Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews that highlights knowledge production around a specific theme or topic. This bouquet series uses MESPI’s Peer-Reviewed Articles Reviews to analyze and provide insight into trends in academia.]
This is the last of three bouquets of articles on the topic “media” in academic journal articles from 2017 and 2018 in the field of Middle East studies. This bouquet follows one on “Social Media in the Region,” and another on “State-Owned Media and its Others.” Interestingly, in researching a potential bouquet topic, we noted that of all articles on media (in/and the Middle East) published in over 130 journals during 2017 and 2018, twenty-three percent were focused on social media, with thirty-five percent of those articles on social media taking Egypt as a primary case study.
Muslims in the American Media: From Texts to Affects
By: Kathleen M Foody
Published in Journal of Islamic Studies (Volume 29, Issue 2)
Abstract: Much scholarship on Islamophobia has offered helpful analyses of the ways that news media, film, television, and even political cartoons represent Muslims generally and Arabs specifically as threating, dangerous, and entirely foreign. In contrast, I argue that analysis of Islamophobic media also requires moving from content analyses to explore why, when, and to whom these representations matter. This article draws on studies of affect to analyse the social and online media that proliferated around both Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai and the film American Sniper (2014). Media events such as these, I argue, mark nodes in the rise of modulated Islamophobic publics, which come together through distinct understandings of what it means to be American and/or modern. In this sense understanding Islamophobia requires attention not merely to media representation, but also to the structures of affective investments that give rise to very particular Islamophobic publics.
Picturing Law and Order: A Visual Framing Analysis of ISIS’s Dabiq Magazine
By: Kareem El Damanhoury, Carol Winkler
Published in Arab Media & Society (Issue 25)
Abstract: The rise of ideologically-driven lone actor terrorist attacks, coupled with the use of Internet-circulated media products as sources of inspiration, raises the need to understand the message strategies embedded in media campaigns of groups like ISIS. To better understand “enforcers” of ISIS’ interpretation of Shari’a law on the global stage, this study examines how ISIS has visualized law enforcement in its claimed territories in Iraq, Syria, and other Arab countries in the online publication, Dabiq, since the declaration of the so-called caliphate. Using a quantitative content analysis and a qualitative visual framing analysis of all law enforcement-related images in the fifteen issues of Dabiq, the study identifies four law enforcement frames and examines Entman’s framing associations—the problem definition, causes, moral stance, and treatment recommendations—displayed in each frame.
Preserving the Past, Mobilizing the Past: The Nakba as a Prospective Media Realm
By: Grace Wermenbol
Published in Arab Media & Society (Issue 25)
Abstract: This article discusses the mediated presentation of the Nakba in the post-Oslo era through an examination of ‘anniversarial’ journalism. By viewing media as an interpretative memory community, this work reveals how Palestinian society has shaped its ideological framing and worldview over time. Building on previous scholarly works which challenge media’s preoccupation with the immediate present, this work highlights the mediated application of the past in Palestinian media as a prospective memory that reflects the communities’ political and cultural circumstances in line with the disparate historical and contemporary geo-political circumstances in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and inside the 1948 borders. This article opines that within these communities the Nakba is not simply invoked as a foundational historical event, but as an analogy which contextualizes present-day cultural and political concerns as a result of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“In the Words of the Enemy”: the Islamic State’s reflexive projection of statehood
By: Nadia Al-Dayel, Aaron Anfinson
Published in Critical Studies on Terrorism (Volume 11, Issue 1)
Abstract: In this article, we examine how the Islamic State utilises direct quotations from prominent politicians, State leaders, authors and terrorism experts to position itself as a competitive entity that threatens the existence, borders and security of established States. Analysing a column in Dabiq entitled “In the Words of the Enemy” (published from July 2014 to August 2016), we establish that the Islamic State conscripts “enemy” utterances to progressively project its own identifications of statehood, positioning itself as a viable alternative to existing nation states. Overall, this analysis enriches current research on the Islamic State and offers contributions towards both counterterrorism efforts and an understanding of non-state actors operating in an era of intense mediatisation.
The mediums and the messages: exploring the language of Islamic State media through sentiment analysis
By: Logan Macnair, Richard Frank
Published in Critical Studies on Terrorism (Volume 11, Issue 3)
Abstract: This study applies the method of sentiment analysis to the online media released by the Islamic State (IS) in order to distinguish the ways in which IS uses language within their media, and potential ways in which this language differs across various online platforms. The data used for this sentiment analysis consist of transcripts of IS-produced videos, the text of IS-produced online periodical magazines, and social media posts from IS-affiliated Twitter accounts. It was found that the language and discourse utilised by IS in their online media is of a predominantly negative nature, with the language of videos containing the highest concentration of negative sentiment. The words and phrases with the most extreme sentiment values are used as a starting point for the identification of specific narratives that exist within online IS media. The dominant narratives discovered with the aid of sentiment analysis were: 1) the demonstrated strength of the IS, 2) the humiliation of IS enemies, 3) continuous victory, and 4) religious righteousness. Beyond the identification of IS narratives, this study serves to further explore the utility of the sentiment analysis method by applying it to mediums and data that it has not traditionally been applied to, specifically, videos and magazines.
Making women terrorists into “Jihadi brides”: an analysis of media narratives on women joining ISIS
By: Alice Martini
Published in Critical Studies on Terrorism (Volume 11, Issue 3)
Abstract: Although the involvement of women in terrorist activities is not new, it is still considered to be an exceptional phenomenon. The figure of a woman militant contradicts the main gender constructions and thus produces a certain shock and disconcertment in societies. In the case of “Jihadism”, women who willingly join a terrorist organisation also challenge the Western Neo-Orientalist perspective on Muslim women in the West. Starting from these theoretical standpoints, this article focuses on a group of terrorists who have recently received a great deal of attention: ISIS women jihadis. Based on a critical discourse analysis of three main UK broadsheets, this article presents, deconstructs and problematises the main depictions that were used to describe these subjects. Furthermore, it discusses how the frames described reconcile these women’s actions with the gender and Neo-Orientalist constructions that circulate in Western societies, safeguarding the deriving hegemonic narratives. In other words, the article focuses on how women terrorists are made into “Jihadi Brides”.
Examining the military–media nexus in ISIS’s provincial photography campaign
By: Kareem El Damanhoury, Carol Winkler, Wojciech Kaczkowski, Aaron Dicker
Published in Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict (Volume 11, Issue 2)
Abstract: Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) views military action and media operations as two equally important, reinforcing components of its campaign. With provinces disseminating 95% of ISIS’s media output, provincial media play a central role in achieving appearance shifts in the contested balance of power. Yet, scholars have not fully examined the interactions between the media and military components of ISIS’s campaign at the provincial level. To understand how enhanced coalition military operations impact the quantity and content of provincial media output, this study examines all 1643 photographs that Ninawa province disseminated before and during intense battles in the east Mosul operation. Unlike the common views in earlier studies, our study reveals that Ninawa’s use of still imagery, in particular, tripled following the launch of the Mosul operation, and the depiction of the state-building campaign remained intact. ISIS also used about-to-die images as its image weaponry of choice during intensified military pressure. Here, we use the case of Ninawa province to explore how ISIS can create nuanced photographic campaigns to help offset losses on the contested media battlefield and facilitate future repackaging of content. Finally, we highlight the importance of operationalization for a better understanding of the military–media nexus in future studies.
Changes and stabilities in the language of Islamic state magazines: a sentiment analysis
By: Logan Macnair, Richard Frank
Published in Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict (Volume 11, Issue 2)
Abstract: This study applies the semi-automated method of sentiment analysis in order to examine any quantifiable changes in the linguistic, topical, or narrative patterns that are present in the English-language Islamic State-produced propaganda magazines Dabiq (15 issues) and Rumiyah (10 issues). Based on a sentiment analysis of the textual content of these magazines, it was found that the overall use of language has remained largely consistent between the two magazines and across a timespan of roughly three years. However, while the majority of the language within these magazines is consistent, a small number of significant changes with regard to certain words and phrases were found. Specifically, the language of Islamic State magazines has become increasingly hostile towards certain enemy groups of the organization, while the language used to describe the Islamic State itself has become significantly more positive over time. In addition to identifying the changes and stabilities of the language used in Islamic State magazines, this study endeavours to test the effectiveness of the sentiment analysis method as a means of examining and potentially countering extremist media moving forward.
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s transnational advocacy in Turkey: a new means of political participation
By: Shaimaa Magued
Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 45, Issue 3)
Abstract: This study examines the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s transnational media advocacy as a shift in the Islamists’ political participation in general and the Brothers’ in particular. The article argues that the Brothers created their own TV channels in order to challenge the new regime’s legitimacy after 3 July 2013 by taking advantage of a sympathetic political environment in Turkey. Their media advocacy embraced a collective Islamic identity in its denunciation of the Sisi regime and called for a democratic restitution as a common Egyptian cause. Based on interviews conducted with TV presenters and a content analysis of the expatriates’ TV channels, this study presents transnational advocacy as a novelty in the Islamists’ repertoire of action.
ISIL’s Execution Videos: Audience Segmentation and Terrorist Communication in the Digital Age
By: Andrew Barr, Alexandra Herfroy-Mischler
Published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (Volume 41, Issue 12)
Abstract: This article offers a bottom-up understanding of the media strategy employed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as it relates to the production and dissemination of its hostage execution videos. Through an empirical analysis of sixty-two videos of executions produced by ISIL in the year following its establishment as the “Islamic State” in 2014, this study examines the videos as a major component of ISIL’s media strategy. Through these media products, ISIL seeks to spread a political message aimed at both local and global, ingroup and outgroup consumption through audience segmentation, while striving to influence both local and global audiences through the use and production of graphic violence. This article also discusses the strategy governing the production and release of ISIL’s execution videos; how it relies on the global media to transmit its intertwined political and religious agenda in the digital media age.
Reading jihad: Mapping the shifting themes of Inspire magazine
By: Julian Droogan, Shane Peattie
Published in Terrorism and Political Violence (Volume 30, Issue 4)
Abstract: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine has received attention within Western academia and media for its role in inspiring and instructing a series of homegrown terrorist attacks. Reporting on the magazine often characterises it as a Western-centric instrument of jihadi discourse. This characterisation, while broadly accurate, is in need of refinement. Using a modified version of Jennifer Attride-Stirling’s method of thematic network analysis, this research visualises and analyses the narrative themes contained within fourteen issues of Inspire magazine. It demonstrates that the magazine’s narrative extends well beyond the Western world. In reality, Inspire’s themes centre not only on the West and its Muslim populations, but on local politics and broader religious issues. The magazine’s thematic focus has also shifted over time—particularly in response to (a) political volatility in the Middle East and North Africa, (b) the killing of prominent jihadists, and (c) the execution of successful individual jihad operations. Throughout these periods of change, Inspire struggled to maintain focus on its anti-Western narrative and proved easily distracted by local issues and the “martyrdom” of Al Qaeda leaders. Understanding Inspire’s thematic landscape and its shifting character prove important in understanding and responding effectively to its jihadi discourse.
Humanitarian interventions and the media: broadcasting against ethnic hate
By: Kerstin Tomiak
Published in Third World Quarterly (Volume 39, Issue 3)
Abstract: Humanitarian interventions routinely come with media components, because of the media’s assumed ability to counter hate and support reconciliation. Radio programmes for peace should enable audiences to withstand manipulation and react non-violently in conflict situations. Based in the ideological tradition of modernisation theory, these programmes assume that violent conflict can be overcome by educating individuals. Based on original data from South Sudan, this paper argues that social structure and duty to leaders play a bigger role and that present media interventions are ill suited to the problem. Interventions need to be tailored to the situation instead of relying on generalised responses.
The Right of Criticism and Defamation Crime in Media: Iraq and U.S. as a Case Study
By: Omed Aziz Ismail
Published in Global Media Journal (Volume 16, Issue 30)
Abstract: This paper is an attempt to find out the role of mass media in criticizing public officials in the government by referring to its constitutional framework. This role, however, can be restricted through the libel suit which might be filed by the public officials against media. Under the right of freedom of expression, media has been enabled to criticize public officials in favor of public interest. The right of criticism often empowers media to participate in public life and protect people from the tyranny system. While practicing its constitutional functions, media might be charged to defame the privacy of others. Consequently, the defamation claims may run against the right of freedom of criticism, and restrict the role of media in some legal cases. A balance between the right of privacy protection and free speech of media should be taken into consideration. Hence, the current paper shed lights on how defamation law should be set in a way that does not suppress media in performing its function. For that, defamation law in the United States and Iraq will be compared in regards to the above mentioned point.
‘Behead, burn, crucify, crush’: Theorizing the Islamic State’s public displays of violence
By: Simone Molin Friis
Published in The European Journal of International Relations (Volume 24, Issue 2)
Abstract: The militant group known as the Islamic State has become notorious for its public displays of violence. Through slick high-definition videos showing beheadings, immolations and other forms of choreographed executions, the Islamic State has repeatedly captured the imagination of a global public and provoked vehement reactions. This article examines the Islamic State’s public displays of violence. Contrary to the public constitution of the Islamic State’s violence as an exceptional evil, the article argues that the group’s staging of killings and mutilations is not an unprecedented phenomenon, but a contemporary version of a distinct type of political violence that has been mobilized by various political agents throughout centuries. However, what is new and significant about the Islamic State’s choreographed executions is the public visibility of the acts and the global spectacle that the group has created. Thus, if the Islamic State is introducing a new dynamic in global politics, it is not a new form of violence or brutality, but rather a transformation of how spectacles of violence unfold on the global stage. Subsequently, the article highlights three dimensions of the Islamic State’s public displays of violence that have facilitated the creation of the global spectacle: the Islamic State’s technological skills and professional use of media (technology); the Islamic State’s mobilization of acts of violence that transgress prevailing sensibilities (transgression); and the violent acts’ function as not only a form of terror, but also an integral element of a state project and a visual manifestation of an alternative political order (politics).
A master institution of world society? Digital communications networks and the changing dynamics of transnational contention
By: Tobias Lemke, Michael W Habegger
Published in International Relations (Volume 32, Issue 3)
Abstract: In English School theory, the putative change from an international society of states to a world society of individuals is usually associated with the diffusion of a benign form of cosmopolitanism and the normative agenda of solidarism. Consequently, the notion that world society might enable alternative expressions of transnational politics, independent from international society, remains underdeveloped. Drawing on the literature of contentious politics and social movements, this article challenges orthodox accounts and suggests that the global proliferation of digitally mediated linkages between individuals and nonstate actors constitutes a fundamental challenge to traditional dynamics of interstate communication in the form of the diplomatic system. This provides an opportunity to reconceptualize world society as an alternative site of politics distinct from mainstream international society and generative of its own logic of communication, mobilization, and action. The 2011 events in Egypt and the ongoing digital presence of the so-called Islamic State are used to demonstrate how massive increases in global interaction capacity are transforming the pathways for political contention and collective mobilization worldwide.
The Birth and Death of 25TV: Innovation in Post-Revolution Egyptian TV News Formats
By: Dina Ibrahim
Published in Arab Media & Society (Issue 23)
Abstract: This case study highlights an experiment that aimed to disrupt traditional television news production and presentation models in post-revolution Egypt. It is a snapshot of a brief moment in Egyptian television history when an attempt was made at innovating news production and content, but much like the Egyptian revolution, ultimately failed to change the status quo. The case study of 25TV examines how political, social, and economic dissatisfaction among Egyptian youth inspired innovation in news formats that gave more content production power to younger and less experienced news presenters and producers. Through the brief lifespan of 25TV, this article will discuss the role of social media and television in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, the contentious relationship between freedom of speech and military rule, and the innovative ways in which television formats in Egypt were nurtured, grew and perished in the post-revolution era.
Mediated Policy Effects of Foreign Governments on Iraqi Independent Media During Elections
By: Mohammad Al-Azdee
Published in Arab Media & Society (Issue 24)
Abstract: I use the term mediated policy to refer to messages about Iraq sent by international news media outlets of foreign governments during the Iraqi parliamentary elections of 2010, and I hypothesize that US Mediated Policy, Iranian Mediated Policy, and Saudi Mediated Policy are three latent constructs interacting in a structural model where they influence a fourth latent variable, Iraqi Independent Media. To feed the model with data, I run a content analysis of relevant international and domestic media coverage. I measure saliences of two news media frames, Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. The analysis shows that in 2010: (1) English represented a barrier to Iraqi independent media. (2) US foreign policy simultaneously dealt with two opposing regional policies, Iranian and Saudi. (3) There were significant policy messages about Iraq carried by international news media of foreign governments, which evidently influenced Iraqi independent media.
Middle Eastern Minorities in Global Media and the Politics of National Belonging
By: Elizabeth Monier
Published in Arab Media & Society (Issue 24)
Abstract: Since the Arab uprisings began in 2010, some communities have experienced increased levels of violence or insecurity on the basis of their ethnic, religious, or linguistic identity. This article examines how such communities have mobilized and developed their media strategies in order to protect themselves and adapt to their changing circumstances. Through investigating the cases of Coptic Christians in Egypt and Ezidis in Iraq, this article demonstrates that both of these communities have begun to connect their community interests with international political concerns and narratives through engaging with global media. Recent scholarship on indigenous media shows globalizing trends in media production and consumption have led indigenous media to increasingly tap into both national and global media to support their advocacy. In my case studies, the move to engage global media has particularly flourished since 2014 but the emphasis is on direct engagement with international political discourses through global media. Most notable is the mobilization of a campaign to recognize violence against Christians and Ezidis in the Middle East as genocide. The aims in engaging the international level differ between the Coptic and Ezidi cases. For Copts, there is a balance between raising the profile of violence against Copts in global media while employing narratives that support Egyptian state policies and strengthen pre-existing Coptic discourses of national belonging. Ezidi diaspora activists seek international protection and potentially an autonomous area in Iraq. This article argues that the differences in the terms and aims of global media engagement stem partly from the way the community perceives its status within the home nation, particularly with regards the notion of being a minority, as well as experiences of national belonging.
Islamophobia and Media Portrayals of Muslim Women: A Computational Text Analysis of US News Coverage
By: Rochelle Terman
Published in International Studies Quarterly (Volume 61, Issue 3)
Abstract: This article examines portrayals of Muslim women in US news media. I test two hypotheses derived from theories of gendered orientalism. First, US news coverage of women abroad is driven by confirmation bias. Journalists are more likely to report on women living in Muslim and Middle Eastern countries if their rights are violated but report on women in other societies when their rights are respected. Second, stories about Muslim women emphasize the theme of women’s rights violations and gender inequality, even for countries with relatively good records of women’s rights. Stories about non-Muslim women, on the other hand, emphasize other topics. I test these hypotheses on data from thirty-five years of New York Times and Washington Post reporting using a structural topic model along with statistical analysis. The results suggest that US news media propagate the perception that Muslims are distinctly sexist. This, in turn, may shape public attitudes toward Muslims, as well as influence policies that involve Muslims at home and abroad.
The Iranian Community of the Late Ottoman Empire and the Egyptian “Crisis” through the Persian Looking Glass: The Documentation of the ʿUrabi Revolt in Istanbul’s Akhtar
By: Tanya Elal Lawrence
Published in Iranian Studies (Volume 51, Issue 2)
Abstract: This article focuses on the coverage of the ʿUrabi rebellion of 1881–82 in the Istanbul-based Persian-language newspaper Akhtar. Akhtar was the first periodical to be published in Persian outside the auspices of the Qajar state, and first appeared on 13 January 1876, from the press owned by Mohammad Tāher Tabrizi in the Valide Han in the Ottoman capital. The objective of the present article is twofold. First, it aims to interweave the history of the Persian-language publication Akhtar with broader questions of how the Hamidian state strove to situate itself within a changing international order in a bid to affirm its legitimacy and sovereignty. It then proceeds to examine the ideological leanings of Akhtar set against the complex background of censorship laws implemented by the Hamidian state (1876–1908). To this end, by scrutinizing the reportage of this one specific event—the Egyptian crisis of 1881–82—it attempts to shed light on how the editors of Akhtar successfully maintained the delicate equilibrium of appeasing both its patrons: namely, the Hamidian state and its readership across the region where Persian was spoken. Thus, the article seeks also to highlight the ways in which inter-imperial dynamics lie at the heart of the history of this “Persian” publication.
“Good and Evil” narratives in Islamic State media and Western government statements
By: Imogen Richards
Published in Critical Studies on Terrorism (Volume 10, Issue 3)
Abstract: This article uses a critical discourse and documentary analysis to explore “Good and Evil” narratives in Islamic State (IS) media and in the official policy statements of the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. The analysis initially considers how IS and Western governments define the other as “Evil” drawing from premodern Manichean and Abrahamic religious conventions. It then interprets how these entities subscribe to a post-Enlightenment ethic that associates the triumph of “Good” over “Evil” with science, reason and technological innovation. Distinct from similar analyses that emphasise the persuasive power of religion, this article reflects on how IS and Western governments use conflicting religious and philosophical imperatives to articulate their strategic political agendas. It further interprets how these agendas become ideologically convincing, through reflexive communication.
Under the shade of AK47s: a multimodal approach to violent extremist recruitment strategies for foreign fighters
By: Peter Wignell, Sabine Tan, Kay L. O’Halloran
Published in Critical Studies on Terrorism (Volume 10, Issue 3)
Abstract: Two notable features of the current conflict in Syria and Iraq are the number of foreign fighters from western countries fighting for Sunni militant organisations, and the use of the Internet and social media by some extremist groups to disseminate propaganda material. This article explores how the group which refers to itself as Islamic State and an affiliated British group, Rayat al Tawheed, deploy combinations of images and text which serve as bonding icons to rally supporters. The data consists of the English language edition of ISIS’s online magazine Dabiq and online materials produced by Rayat al Tawheed. The results suggest that ISIS and Rayat al Tawheed adopt similar but different iconisation strategies. While ISIS adopts a global strategy to present a unified world view utilising a range of ISIS values in its iconisation, Rayat al Tawheed foregrounds jihad using strategies specifically targeting young, English-speaking men of Islamic/Arab backgrounds.
“Electronic Jihad”: The Internet as Al Qaeda’s Catalyst for Global Terror
By: Martin Rudner
Published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (Volume 40, Issue 1)
Abstract: The Internet has emerged as a key technology for Al Qaeda and other jihadistmovements waging their so-called electronic jihad across the Middle East and globally, with digital multiplier effects. This study will examine the evolving doctrine of “electronic jihad” and its impact on the radicalization of Muslims in Western diaspora communities The study describes Internet-based websites that served as online libraries and repositories for jihadist literature, as platforms for extremist preachers and as forums for radical discourse. Furthermore, the study will then detail how Internet connectivity has come to play a more direct operational role for jihadi terrorist-related purposes, most notably for inciting prospective cadres to action; for recruiting jihadist operatives and fighters; for providing virtual training in tactical methods and manufacture of explosives; for terrorism financing; and for actual planning and preparations for specific terror attacks. Whereas contemporary jihadist militants may be shifting from the World Wide Web to social media, such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for messaging and communications, nevertheless the Internet-based electronic jihad remains a significant catalyst for promoting jihadist activism and for facilitating terrorist operations.
What Does Dabiq Do? ISIS Hermeneutics and Organizational Fractures within Dabiq Magazine
By: Brandon Colas
Published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (Volume 40, Issue 3)
Abstract: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)’s flagship English-language magazine, Dabiq, is a puzzle. The magazine is not, despite appearances, primarily designed for direct recruiting efforts or inciting violence against the West. In fact, the primary audiences of Dabiq are English-speaking second generation Muslims or converts, Western policymakers, and a third group of current or would-be members of ISIS who are not integrating with the organization itself. The third audience—those members who are failing to function within the organization—is strange to include in an English-language magazine. Why publish organizational weaknesses, in English? One possibility for this puzzle is that the fundamentalist hermeneutics of ISIS is reflected in their own media efforts. One of the assumptions that ISIS holds about their sacred texts is that each text carries a single meaning that reflects the author’s original intent. There might be multiple applications of that intent, but each text can only have one intent, and therefore one meaning. Following this logic, a message meant for one person is unlikely to be of utility for another, and so this may be why ISIS exposes their weaknesses as part of the process of correcting their own members.
How Muslim Defenders Became “Blood Spilling” Crusaders: Adam Gadahn’s Critique of the “Jihadist” Subversion of Al Qaeda’s Media Warfare Strategy
By: Paul Kamolnick
Published in Terrorism and Political Violence (Volume 29, Issue 3)
Abstract: Adam Gadahn’s Abbottabad letter offers a rare opportunity to examine how this Al Qaeda Senior Leadership (AQSL) media operative and spokesman conceptualizes and executes media warfare. In this article, I first introduce, depict, and employ the author’s Terrorist Quadrangle Analysis (TQA) as a useful heuristic for conceptualizing and representing the four interrelated components of the AQSL terrorist enterprise: political objectives, media warfare, terrorist attacks, and strategic objectives. This TQA construct is then employed to conceptualize Gadahn’s media warfare acumen. Gadahn is shown to be an adept communications warfare operative who conscientiously disaggregates and evaluates key target audiences, messengers, messaging, and media. Gadahn’s vehement critique of select “jihadi” groups, in particular Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP), al-Shabaab, and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), is then described. Key here is how and why Gadahn denounces their indiscriminate, murderous terrorist attacks on Muslim non-combatant civilians and other protected persons as effectively subverting his intended AQSL media warfare strategy and undermining AQSL strategic and religio-political objectives. A concluding section briefly summarizes these chief findings, offers select implications for scholarship and counter-AQSL messaging strategy, and identifies study limitations.
“One Can Veil and Be a Singer!”: Performing Piety on an Iranian Talent Competition
By: Farzaneh Hemmasi
Published in Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (Volume 13, Issue 3)
Abstract: This article explores the media controversy surrounding the victory of Ermia, a veiled female vocalist, on the 2013 expatriate Iranian talent competition Googoosh Music Academy (GMA). A historically and ethnographically informed “ethnotextual” analysis of a selection of Persian-language television programs, articles and news reports, weblogs, and Facebook posts responding to Ermia reveals how a reality television contestant came to disturb simplistic but powerful binaries of modest/immodest, religious/secular, Iranian/Western, and national/diasporic as she combined signifying elements of these positions into one unsettling figure. The article shows how Ermia’s case gathered political valence through the contentious transnational Iranian mediascape and the televised talent genre’s premise—representing “real,” “ordinary” contestants and fostering audience participation. I argue that GMA became a space for publicly playing with cultural norms, political participation, and the politics of piety at some distance from the pressures that make publicly living difference so challenging.
Negotiating Values in the Islamist Press after 2013
By: Michelanglo Guida
Published in Middle East Critique (Volume 27, Issue 2)
Abstract: Turkey’s Islamist press has been influenced essentially by three contingencies: partisanship, lack of political autonomy, and lack of economic autonomy. These contingencies are reflected in the opinion pieces of Islamist columnists, five of whom are examined here in detail. To understand how their opinions are shaped, this article focuses on their interpretations of two dramatic events: the Gezi Park protests and the December 17–25 corruption scandals, both of which took place in 2013. This analysis provides a granular look at how the different Islamist columnists produced highly contrasting responses to government policies and choices, giving a unique insight on the intellectual dynamics within the Islamist community as the July 15, 2016 coup approached.
East sees east: the image of Jews from Islamic countries in the Jewish discourse of interwar Poland
By: Magdalena Kozłowska
Published in Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 54, Issue 1)
Abstract: This article explores travel pieces on Jews in Islamic countries published in the Jewish press (in Yiddish and Polish) in interwar Poland. It argues that many of the strategies of representation that Polish–Jewish journalists employed to describe the Jews of Islamic countries during this time borrow from the way the Jews of Eastern Europe were perceived. Turning the Western gaze on the Orient served Eastern European Jewish intellectuals as an act of multiple redemption. Finding themselves in between modern and traditional identification, Polish–Jewish journalists decided to ensure their belonging to the world which they saw as civilised by transposing concepts they knew from home.