Islamophobia, and racism against Muslims, are on the rise in Europe. In Sweden, a far right-wing political party with a neo-Nazi past gain parliamentary access in the recent election. In recent years the political debate concerning immigration has shifted tone in Sweden. Mainstream right wing political parties, with a history of liberal attitudes towards immigration, have jumped on the anti-immigrant bandwagon in search of disillusioned voters. In fuelling and normalizing more extreme standpoints on immigration and immigrants, the Internet has facilitated a space of increasing xenophobia and racism. A growing number of web pages, blogs and communities form a new kind network, which combines paranoid visions of an immanent Islamic invasion and a demand for harsher immigration legislations. In Sweden, islamophobic web logs and pages, have undoubtedly contributed to the success of the far-right nationalist party Sverigedemokraterna in the election in 2010. They have also been part of a general shift in the mainstream political discourse on immigration and cultural integration.
This paper examines part of the Swedish islamophobic web-community and its relation to mediated discourses on Islam and Muslims in mainstream online news media. It taps into the discursive construction of Islam and Muslims in three of the most popular xenophobic Swedish blogs, and examines the inter-textual, inter-discursive relations and the hyperlinks between online islamophobic blogs/pages and mainstream online news and its relations to institutionalised politics (domestic and foreign).
The study draws on theories of racism in mass media and the connection between elite discourses, geopolitics and racism (van Dijk, 1993). It also discusses the role of historic representation of the non-European other in general, and of Muslims in particular.
The study shows that the online islamophobic web pages, use, and link to, certain online newspapers, journalists and news topics in order to confirm, or contrast their position on Islam and Muslims. They create a seemingly anti-establishment position by framing racist and xenophobic standpoints as a question of freedom of speech and critique against religious extremism. The study also shows that the online pages use xenophobic currents within elite mainstream media in order to mobilize voters in support of far right-wing political parties.