The Representation of Islam in Western Media: The Coverage of Norway Terrorist Attacks

Emad A. Alghamdi


Undeniably mass media have become the primary source of information and communication for the majority of, if not all, members of modern societies. The nature of the information thus communicated and the manner in which it is dispensed through media certainly have a profound influence on people’s perceptions of the world around them. The relation between the media, on one hand, and culture, social life, and politics on the other, is an interesting one in which media fulfills dual functions, reflecting and also shaping issues occurring within these three domains (Bell & Garrett, 1998). In the initial media coverage of the 2011 Norway terrorist attacks, some western media authors, inaccurately and unjustly, held Muslims and Islamic groups as being responsible for the attacks. Using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), this study seeks to ascertain how language was manipulated in this coverage of the terrorist attacks in order to give expression to blind prejudice against Islam and Muslims. As findings of the analyses reveal, the tones of allegation in these articles and reports differed dramatically from one article to another ranging from tones of mere suspicion to those of overt accusation. The varying degrees of uncertainty or assertion of the authors’ statements were reflected in the varied linguistic forms and devices used within the discourse.



Media discourse analysis, Norway terrorist attacks, Islam, Western media

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