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Networking Islamophobia: The global online network of Counter-jihad
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies.
2012 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Negative attitudes, animosity and explicit racism aimed towards Muslims are increasingly visible in Europe. In several European countries far right-wing political parties focusing on the “Islamic problem” have gained access to, or strengthen their positions in, national parliaments. In recent years the political debate concerning immigration and integration has shifted tone. Mainstream right wing political parties, some 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 where xenophobic viewpoints and racist attitudes towards Muslims are expressed. A growing number of web pages, blogs and communities form a network that combines paranoid visions of an immanent Islamic invasion and a demand for harsher immigration legislations.

This paper examines the content, character and structure of the Counter-jihad online network. It focuses on the hyperlinks and the inter-textual and inter-discursive relations between political parties, organisations and actors. The paper analyses the discursive strategies used in framing Islam and Muslims as the most prominent threat to Europe and to “European values”. The study draws on theories of racism and the connection between elite discourses, racism and mass media. Methodologically the paper combines elements from social network analysis and critical discourse analysis.

The study shows that the Islamophobic web pages constitutes a dynamic network of different actors, such as journalists, politicians, intellectuals, political parties and organisations, situated in different political and geographical environments. The discourses that emanates from the various nodes and actors in the network create a seemingly anti-establishment position by framing racist and xenophobic standpoints as a defence of western values, a question of freedom of speech and a critique against religious extremism. The analysis shows that the online sites use news media content in order to disseminate negative stories on immigrants in general, and Muslims in particular. The study also shows that the web pages use xenophobic currents within elite mainstream media in order to mobilize supporters.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Islamophobia, Counter-jihad, Internet, racism, blogs, online network, National elections, Europe
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Communication Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-86161OAI: diva2:586291
ECREA’s 4th European Communication Conference 24 – 27 October 2012, Istanbul
Available from: 2013-01-11 Created: 2013-01-11 Last updated: 2013-03-05Bibliographically approved

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Ekman, Mattias
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