Brown, Malcolm (2006) Comparative analysis of mainstream discourses, media narratives and representations of Islam in Britain and France prior to 9/11. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 27 (3). pp. 297-312. ISSN 1360-2004
[Abstract]: It has become almost impossible to believe that Islam even existed in Western consciousness before September 11th, 2001 (9/11). Those who have used that event to denigrate Islam, and those who criticise the Islamophobia inherent in such negative discourses, take the events and aftermath of that day as their starting point. In contrast to that imagination, and also in contrast to some literature that attempts to instantiate a critique of Orientalism, this paper shows that Western representations of Islam and Muslims were sophisticated, diverse and historically fluid before 9/11. It does so by analysing media sources from the United Kingdom and France, the two nation states whose governments have famously been at loggerheads over their post-9/11 analyses and foreign policies. The objective here is to capture the diversity of mainstream social discourses as they were reflected in the press. The purpose is not to analyse media influence or the relative importance of different discourses, so the sources are deliberately selective and small in number. The article is structured around the 'paradigm shift' from an exotic, sensual stereotype of Islam to a stereotype of Muslim fanaticism (prominent at the time of the Rushdie affair, for example), which prepared the ground for responses to 9/11, but it also identifies a media critique of these discourses, and of Islamophobia in society and in the media itself.
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