The Impact of �Islamic Extremism� on Television News

The Impact of �Islamic Extremism� on Television News

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1 The Impact of ‘Islamic Extremism’ on Television News Representations of Multiculturalism, Intégration and Mnogonarodnost’ : A Comparative Analysis Stephen Hutchings, Galina Miazhevich, Chris Flood and Henri Nickels Introduction On December 6, 2006, Vladimir Putin called a meeting of party leaders to discuss extremism in Russian society. In his address, he referred to international terrorism, internal ethnic tensions and Russia’s multicultural, multi-faith status. Two days later, Britain’s Tony Blair gave a speech on multiculturalism, singling out Muslim fundamentalism as the most dangerous form of extremism threatening British society, claiming: ‘The reason we are having this debate is not generalised extremism. It is a new and virulent form of ideology associated with a minority of our Muslim community’. Both speeches provided the headlines for the evening news bulletins of BBC 1 and Russia’s Channel 1 respectively. The broader context behind a coincidence which passed largely unnoticed is the rise of Islamic radicalism and the reinforcement of a ‘War on Terror’ discourse in the wake of terrorist atrocities in the USA (9/11), the UK (7/7), Russian (Beslan), and elsewhere. There is an emergent body of academic work treating the ‘War on Terror’’s implications for inter-ethnic cohesion, security and multicultural policy, and
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2 its representation in the media. Anglophone research is oriented towards identifying the impact of western media bias against Islamic cultures. For example, Said’s (1997) seminal study demonstrates how Islamic groups are induced first to assimilate then perpetuate western media images of Muslim hostility. Poole (2002) details British media stereotyping of Muslims in the context of the new global order. Qureshi and Sells (2003) analyse post-9/11 constructions of the Muslim as enemy. Sanadjian (2002) and Lyon (2005) examine the retrograde influence of the anti-terror campaign on Western multiculturalism. There is less scholarship on French or Russian media representations. In France and Russia attention has focused on Islam itself; Sifaoui’s (2002) monograph on the Islamic threat to French integrity builds on Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilizations’ thesis; a parallel Russian body of work (e.g. Brass & Shumilin, 2004) promotes the Establishment line on Chechnya and global terror. A British counterweight is Russell’s (2005) exposé of Russian demonisations of Chechen Muslims after 9/11. Whilst much one-nation scholarship references the US approach to Islamic radicalism, few genuinely comparative analyses have been undertaken. This article addresses the lacuna by considering television news mediations of the impact of Islamic extremism on inter-ethnic cohesion policy in three European nations which share similarities in their postcolonial relations with Islamic states, substantial Muslim contingents within multicultural populations, and varying degrees of involvement in the 'War on Terror'. They also exhibit differences of media and political cultures and
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The Impact of �Islamic Extremism� on Television News

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