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Abdulla, R. (2007). Islam, jihad, and terrorism in post-9/11 Arabic discussion boards.
(3), article 15.
Islam, Jihad, and Terrorism in Post-9/11 Arabic Discussion
Rasha A. Abdulla
Journalism and Mass Communication Department
The American University in Cairo
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This study analyzed the contents of three of the most popular Arabic-language online message boards regarding
the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States. Although terrorists claimed that the attacks were
committed in the name of Islam, those who posted messages on all three forums rejected this claim. More
than 43% of the messages condemned the attacks as a criminal act of terrorism that contradicts the core
teachings of Islam. Some 30% saw some justification behind the attacks, even if they felt sorry for the
victims and their families. However, those participants viewed the attacks as a political, rather than a
Islam is the youngest, fastest growing, and perhaps most controversial of the three monotheistic religions.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States (henceforth, 9/11), Islam and Muslims
started to come to the forefront of the Western media, albeit not for very positive reasons. Because Osama
Bin Laden cited religious motives for his criminal attacks, a debate started brewing in the Western media over
the true nature of Islam and whether or not it justified or even encouraged violence, particularly against
non-Muslims. Many media outlets referred to the 9/11 terrorists simply as "Muslims," which fueled
stereotyping of Islam and did nothing to help stop the verbal and physical attacks taking place against
Muslims in the U.S. at the time.
In an attempt to study how Muslims viewed the attacks from a religious point of view, this article examines
the online message exchange on three major discussion boards in the Arab and Muslim world. Through a
descriptive content analysis of these messages, the different viewpoints reiterated through Internet
conversations are examined. This is an important medium in this part of the world (the Middle East), since
most of the media are government-owned and controlled. The Internet, however, provides a relatively free
expression forum for Middle Eastern audiences. It therefore has the potential to reveal Muslim points of view
without governmental slanting of ideas in any particular political or religious manner.
Arabs and Muslims in the Western Media