Muslim neighbors or an Islamic threat?

Article title: Muslim neighbors or an Islamic threat? A constructionist framing analysis of newspaper coverage of mosque controversies

From Media, Culture & Society

In recent years, growing communities of Muslim-Americans have faced the challenge of claiming a space as ‘fully empowered as participants in civic and political life’ within the United States’ professed values of religious freedom and pluralism. Muslims frequently find themselves at the center of a perceived conflict between national loyalty and religious identity. One of the most salient recent examples of this tension between American ideals and Muslim reality has surfaced in debates over the construction of mosques and other Islamic facilities in American cities. The debates over mosque construction projects show that, even as Muslim-Americans face the challenge of fitting into American society, they are also advancing a challenge to America’s self-image. This study presents a framing analysis of the debate in five US newspapers between 2010 and 2013 as a way of examining the position of Muslims within contemporary American society. Some of the discourse showed evidence of Islamophobia, or indiscriminate negative attitudes or emotions directed at Islam or Muslims. Other stories showed evidence of Islamophilia, which is the stereotypical presentation of ‘good Muslims’ who are model citizens in contrast to the ‘bad Muslims’ who serve as rhetorical enemies.

Abstract

In recent years, growing communities of Muslim-Americans have faced tension in a series of debates over the construction of Islamic prayer spaces in American cities. Islamic community members have found themselves fighting for representation within the political process and for their philosophical right to exist within American society. This study presents a framing analysis of the debate in five US newspapers between 2010 and 2013 as a way of examining the position of Muslims within contemporary American society. The study examines five frames: Local Regulation, Legal Authority, Political Debate, Muslim Neighbors, and Islamic Threat. The first three were episodic frames, while the other two were thematic. Some of the discourse showed evidence of Islamophobia, or indiscriminate negative attitudes or emotions directed at Islam or Muslims. Other stories showed evidence of Islamophilia, which is the stereotypical presentation of ‘good Muslims’ who are model citizens in contrast to the ‘bad Muslims’ who serve as rhetorical enemies.

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Article details
Brian J Bowe and Taj W Makki
Muslim neighbors or an Islamic threat? A constructionist framing analysis of newspaper coverage of mosque controversies
Media, Culture & Society 0163443715613639, first published on December 30, 2015 doi:10.1177/0163443715613639

 

 

     
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