Published in International Journal of Communication 12 (NO.2), July-Dec. 2002, pp.103-117.
The Representation of Islam, Arabs and Muslims in Newsweek
and Time during the September 11 events: A Case Study in
Critical Discourse Analysis
Ahmed Sokarno Abdel-Hafiz
South Valley University, Aswan, Egypt
This paper sets out to discuss the way Islam, Arabs, and Muslims are represented in two US major magazines, Newsweek and Time, especially in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as a frame of reference, I have argued that the issues (of these magazines) following the attacks demonstrate that terrorism, Islam, Arabs and Muslims are intertwined into a single phenomenon through the use of certain strategies: naming the alleged perpetrators, using collocation, etc. This conflation, contrary to the claim of Dajani and Michelmor (1999), is shown to be realized in certain contexts where the event and the attackers are viewed as enemies. This viewpoint has been verified by examining the language of media (represented by Time and Newsweek) in the aftermath of the September 11 events and the Oklahoma City bombing. The latter event, which involved non-Arabs, is shown to have been described by the press in a neutral way.
Arabs and Muslims in the European countries and in the US have often suffered from prejudice, racism, and humiliation. Emmett Tyrrell in Harper’s magazine bluntly states that “Arabs are basically murderers and that violence and deceit are carried in the Arab genes” (Said 1978:287). According to Akel, “the West has many stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam that are due to the media, prejudice, and ignorance”. These negative attitudes have exacerbated since the September 11 attacks (cf. Muzaffar 2001). Muslims and Arabs have even been subject to physical as well as psychological abuse. For instance, Muslims “in workplaces and colleges have been harangued and hectored in not only the US but also Canada, Australia and in different European countries.” (Muzaffar 2001)
Moreover, since that ominous day, Arabs and Muslims have been “singled out because of the way they look.” (Scott, www.stanford.edu/class)
The US media have played a significant role in enhancing animosity and hostility towards Arabs and Muslims even before the perpetrators of the twin tower attacks were identified. As Davidson (2001) explains in the Sunday Herald, the media have promoted an image of they pray and kill, “an image that has been altogether too compelling in the media since the twin tower attacks.”. The Hate Crimes Resource Manual (cf. Leek 2000:13) admits that
the effect of media images on popular perception cannot
be dismissed as mere entertainment, indeed there is a link
between the media’s anti-Arab spin on an event and the
ensuing of violence and discrimination directed at Arab
Both Time and Newsweek, two of the major magazines in the US, produced special issues to commemorate the September 11 attacks on American territory. These magazines were promptly issued even before Americans fully absorbed the blows that have impacted (if not devastated) their life and even before investigators finished their job. So it was expected that no accusations should be leveled against any group or organization or even an individual before hard evidence is revealed. This paper deals with the language of these two magazines, the language that is employed in representing Islam, Arabs, and Muslims. This paper falls into six sections. The first section points out the purpose of the study, whereas the second section deals with the significance of the study. The third section handles the previous studies that are pertinent to the present one. The fourth section embarks upon data collection and the theoretical framework used in the analysis. The fifth section presents and discusses the results of the research. The final section contains the concluding remarks which sum up the work done in this paper.
1. The Purpose of the Study
The present paper examines the language of these magazines (Time and Newsweek) with the purpose of revealing and exposing the ideologies, and the anti-Muslim or anti-Arab prejudices of the editors and the writers who composed the articles and reports. The study starts by looking into the way terrorists and America are linguistically depicted in the wake of the September 11 tragedy. Also, an attempt is made to examine how Islam, Arabs and Muslims are represented in these two US-based magazines, especially in the issues following the attacks. It shows how these magazines manipulated language to tie the attacks to Islam, Arabs, and Muslims and to lay the blame at their doors.
Djanai and Michelmore (1999) claim that Time is used to conflating Arabs, Muslims and terrorism “into a single, undifferentiated phenomenon”. However, this paper shows that the lexical items used to describe Arabs and Muslims change according to the contexts in which the epithets are used: for instance, if Arabs and Muslims are mentioned in the context of the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan, they are freedom-fighters. If they are referred to in the context of the September carnage, they are terrorists. The paper also focuses on the difference between the language of these magazines in reporting the September 11 events and the language of Time magazine as manifested in the report of the 1995 Oklahoma Incident.
In a nutshell, this study sets out to answer the following questions:
(i) How did these two magazines (Time and Newsweek) view the US in the
wake of the attacks?
(ii) How did these magazines attempt to tie the blames to Islam, Arabs,
and Muslims even before any investigation was conducted?
(iii) How did such magazines deal with an even more disastrous incident
(the Oklahoma City bombing) after the culprit’s name was revealed?
2. The Significance of the Study
Newspapers and magazines are one of the major sources of information in America. According to Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, “nearly 8 out of 10 adult Americans read a newspaper everyday”. These newspapers and magazines immensely impact and shape the opinion of the readers in the free world. According to Van Dijk (1998), “such discourses also influenced public opinion and led to broadly shared social representations.” Similarly, Edward Said (cited in Brasted 1997) points out that “the West’s misunderstanding of Islamic culture stemmed directly from the way scholars, novelists, journalists and agencies of the state had misrepresented it”. These newspapers and magazines use language to “convey blame subtly, with the motivating value system only subliminally present, so that an analysis of that language is not just an end in itself, but a way of decodifying and laying bare the patterns of blame” Clark (1992:208). For all these reasons, this study hopes to reveal the built-in racism and prejudice that permeate magazines such as Time and Newsweek. By exposing the ideologies of these magazines, such studies may ultimately convince the editorial board of these magazines to change the policies that negatively influence public opinion.
3. Review of Literature
The analysis of linguistic features which work subliminally in the newspapers’ ideological practice of representation has been the subject of extensive research (c.f. Fowler 1991; Clark 1992; Krishnamurthy 1996; Wodak 1996; Hoey 1996; Attia 2001). Fowler (1991) has demonstrated how the British newspaper, the Guardian, promoted some negative beliefs about Arabs such as “the perception of ‘Arabs’ as non-human and bestial.” In the words of Fowler (1991), this “particular system of beliefs, pre-exists these newspaper reports, being part of the general discourse of the paper and, more widely, of the culture of its production and consumption” (p.118). Dajani and Michelmor (1999) have studied the representation of Islam in the Time magazine between 1944 to 1994; they conclude that the US media “conflate Islam, Arabs, violence, and terrorism into a single, undifferentiated phenomenon”. Similarly, Hafez (2000) has examined the negative image of Islam and the Islamic world in the Western media. He points out that “media images that are confined to such negative impressions do not represent a balanced perception of Islam” (Hafez 2000:5). But these scholars do not refer to the linguistic strategies employed to conflate Islam, Arabs, and terrorism. The present study shows how this conflation is realized—in certain contexts—through language in the two magazines under study and how these magazines avoid using the same linguistic strategies in covering incidents (e.g. the Oklahoma City bombing) in which White Americans were involved.
4. Theoretical Framework
4.1 The Data
Both Time and Newsweek magazines, especially the first three issues that appeared immediately after the September 11 attacks, were chosen. These magazines were selected because they are “the most significant US news magazines” (Fraser www.vegan.swinternet.co.uk). They represent “a mainstream, prestige publication with the largest circulation of any news magazine” (Dajani and Michelmor 1999). The issues following the attacks were crucial because the identities of the culprits or perpetrators had not been revealed or known. Also, I examined the Time issue of May 1, 1995, which covered the Oklahoma City bombing.
The study relies on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as a framework for the discussion of how the reporters of the magazines have prepared accusations against possible suspects. According to Fowler (1991:67), “Critical linguistics seeks, by studying the minute details of linguistic structure in the light of the social historical situation of the text, to display to consciousness the patterns of belief and value which are encoded in the language”. In other words, the patterns of belief and value-system, which are ingrained in the language, mediate and mould all representation (cf. Fowler 1996:4). CDA throws light on the bi-directional nature of discourse by showing how social practices impact the choice of linguistic elements and how these choices come to influence not only social structures but also social practices (cf. Figueiredo). Thus one of the concerns of CDA is “to study the role of discourse in the production of ethnic and ‘racial’ inequality” (Van Dijk 1998).
Transitivity (cf. Fowler 1991) is used as a tool to show how terrorists are represented as responsible agents and the US is represented as a patient (cf. section 5.1). As for how Islam, Arabs, and Muslims are depicted (cf. section 5.2) in these magazines, I have attempted to make reference to the strategies (e.g. the naming strategies (cf. Leeuwan 1996)) used in referring to (the culprits of) the deadly acts of September 11. These strategies will be compared to the way Time magazine treated the Oklahoma City bombing which occurred in 1995.
5. The Analysis
It seems that the president of the United States, George W. Bush, had already taken a decision that the blows were not instigated by US citizens. In other words, his statement involves a presupposition that the source of the attacks is not in America. As soon as he appeared from his hiding place, he announced that
America would make no distinction between terrorists and those
who harbor them. ( Newsweek, September11, 2001,p.29)
So does the Time writer, Lance Morrow, who believes that the source of horror and terrorism is not inside the civilized world:
The worst times, as we see, separate the civilized of the world
from the uncivilized. (Time, September11,2001)
Thus both the president of the superpower and the Time reporter have it in mind that the attacks were designed and executed by foreigners, especially from the “uncivilized world”.
5.1 The United States as represented in the wake of the attacks
Before discussing the way Arabs, Muslims and Islam are represented in these magazines, we need to examine how these magazines have depicted both the terrorists and the United States during the September 11 attacks. In this connection, use will be made of transitivity as an analytic tool.
As Fowler (1991:70) puts it, transitivity is “an essential tool in the analysis of representation, which has already proved extremely illuminating in critical linguistics.”. Transitivity is concerned with language at the level of clauses. These are made up of three components:
i. The predicates—material, mental, verbal or relational
ii. The participants in the process
iii. The circumstances of the process
The elements that are most relevant to the reports are predicates and participants. Predicates involve ‘actions’ (e.g. shoot), ‘processes’ (e.g. drown) or states (e.g. meditate). The roles for participants include: (a) the Agent who ‘does’ the process, (b) the Force, which is an active but inanimate role, (c) the Patient that refers to an affected human participant (Fowler 1991:75), (d) the goal/ result role which “is one which comes into being as a result of an action or process” (ibid.), and (e) the Beneficiary as the entity that benefited from the action or process. The circumstances refer to such information as the location of the event/action or the time in which it occurs. The point of this theory, as Van Dijk (2001) puts it, is that “events and actions may be described with syntactic variations that are a function of the underlying involvement of actors (e.g. their agency, responsibility and perspective). Van Dijk shows us how transitivity can be used in the analysis of media language:
in an analysis of the media accounts of the ‘riots’ during
a minority festival, the responsibility of the authorities
and especially of the police in such violence may be
systematically de-emphasized by de-focusing, e.g. by
passive constructions and nominalization, that is by
leaving agency and responsibility implicit. On the other
hand, as is the case for the representation of Others in general
and for minorities in particular, their negative role in deviance
and violence may be emphasized by representing them as
responsible agents in topical, subject position.
Thus transitivity offers options to newsmakers; the choice made should indicate their point of view and reflect their ideologies.
The terrorists, being the doers or instigators of terrorism, occupy the Agent position in the clause in both Time and Newsweek:
economic strength (Newsweek, September 11, 2001, p.40)
(2) The terrorists did more than rack up a staggering death toll. (ibid.)
(3) The terrorists had struck at the soul, and indeed the meaning of
America (Newsweek, September 11, 2001, p.42)
September 11, 2001)
(Newsweek, September 11, 2001, p.42)
(7) The terrorists hit us with the most horrific peacetime assault in the
country’s history (Newsweek, September11, 2001, p.45)
The writers’ point of view concerning America as a victim is coded in the language. Thus America is given the Patient role in the above extracts and in the following ones:
(9) It is opposition of those who hate America (Newsweek, September.11,
(10) They can denounce America by day and consume its bounties by night.
(Newsweek, September11, 2001, p.49)
The Patient can be put into focus as the grammatical subject of the clause:
(11) Pearl Harbor was bombed (Time, September 11, 2001)
5.2 The representation of Arabs, Muslims and Islam
Dajani and Michelmor (1999) have argued that the issues of Time magazines from 1944-1994 reveal that a connection is established between Islam, Muslims, and terrorism. The post-September 11 issues of Newsweek and Time were no different. These magazines use subtle representation in order to associate these horrendous and heinous crimes with Islam and Arabs. Consciously or unconsciously, the reporters use three strategies to achieve this goal: (a) mentioning the name(s) of the alleged offenders. (b) associating the so-called ‘terrorists’ with their home countries. (c) establishing a linguistic linkage (i.e. collocation) between terror and Islam/Arabs. (d) using transliteration (i.e. the rendering of a word in Roman letters).
5.2.1 The Identity of “the terrorists” of the September 11 attacks
According to Leeuwan (1996:52), “social factors can be represented either in terms of their unique identity by being nominated, or in terms of identities and functions they share with others (categorization)”. According to Akel, “a major factor which contributes to Islamic stereotyping in the West is due to media’s ignorance of selecting their words that describe Muslims”. In the magazines under discussion, the journalists and reporters use nomination as a major means of representing terrorists. Nomination is “typically realized by proper nouns” (ibid., p.58). Although the magazines (e.g. Newsweek, September 11, 2001, p.37) admit that “the link to bin Laden and Ramzi Yousef appeared to be largely circumstantial.”, the reporters and editors have no qualms about associating terrorists with the Arab world by referring to Arab people by name:
(12) The terrorists had ties to bin Laden (Time, September11, 2001),
(13) The ultimate blame lies with Osama Bin Laden (Newsweek,
September11, 2001, p.25),
(14) Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman (Newsweek, September 11,2001, p.37),
and Ayman al-Zawahiri (Newsweek, September 11, 2001, p.37).
Reference is also made to the Arab countries with which the alleged terrorists are affiliated:
(15) Two brothers, working on United Arab Emirates passports…
(Newsweek, September11, 2001, p.37).
(16) The four terrorist teams had a certified pilot ..some of these pilots had
flown for an airline in Saudi Arabia (Time, September 11, 2001)
(17) Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born… (Newsweek, September 11, 2001)
(18) The gaunt bearded Saudi exile (Newsweek, september11, 2001, p.36),
(19) Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of another Egyptian militant group
(Newsweek, September 11, 2001, p. 37)
(20) Bin Laden’s network is so diffuse and diverse—a patchwork of
renegade Algerian, Palestine, Egyptian and other cells (Newsweek,
September 11, 2001, p.38)
Extreme opinions and stereotyping were not confined to news reporters or commentators in the aftermath of the attacks. Bigots and Fascists too found a safe haven in these magazines. It is reported in the Newsweek that the Louisiana Rep. John Cooksey told a radio interviewer last week that
(21) “If I see someone come that’s got a diaper on his head and a fan belt
[wrapped] around [it], that guy needs to be pulled over and checked.”.
(Newsweek, October1, 2001,65).
5.2.2 Terror/terrorism Collocating with Islam
There is a common misconception in the West that Islam is associated with violence (cf. Akel). As Hafez (2000:5) puts it “Islamic politics is equated with fundamentalism; fundamentalism with terrorism”. The term terror or terrorism collocates with Islam and Muslims in these magazines (Time and Newsweek). Collocation is defined as “the habitual co-occurrence of individual LEXICAL ITEMS.” (Crystal 1991:62). Thus the reporters have used the adjective ‘Islamic’ and the noun ‘Islam’ in the same phrase where ‘terror’ or ‘terrorism’ is used:
(22) The Islamic Jihad terror group (Time, September11, 2001)
(23) Islamic terror organization (Time, September 24, 2001, p.60)
(24) Why, then, should it inspire some Muslims to acts of unspeakable
violence and terrorism?” (Newsweek, September 24, 2001,p.77)
(25) Islamic extremist who runs a vast international terror network”
(Newsweek, September11, 2001, p.25)
(26) Islamic fundamentalist terror groups” (Newsweek, September 11,
(27) terrorists of radical Islam” (Time, September 24, 2001, p.81)
(28) In such ways have appeals to Islam legitimated terrorist tactics”
(Newsweek, September 24, 2001, p.78)
(29) The Taliban party in Afghanistan has been defined as “Islamic
extremists who are known for harboring terrorists” (Newsweek,
September11, 2001, p.28)
What is saddening is that an apparently Arab reporter in the Newsweek—Fareed Zakaria—writes an article in which he squarely associates Islam with terrorism: “modern Islamic terrorism”, “radical Islamic terrorism”. He even goes so far as to accuse countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt of being the sources of terrorism:
(30) Saudi Arabia’s connection to these terrorists is particularly
illuminating. Embracing Wahhabism, a rigid, puritanical version of
Islam” (Newsweek, October1, 2001, p.19)
Moreover, the ideologies of the reporters in these magazines have sometimes been bluntly represented: some articles squarely lay the blame for these terrorist attacks on the religion of the culprits—Islam. Thus some Time reporters (apparently Jewish) suggest that Islam does not condemn such actions:
(31) Some clerics [in the Middle East] are providing religious rationales for
slaughter (Time, September 24, 2001, p.44).
(32) The bombers are taught that they are guaranteed immediate admission
to paradise (Time, September 24, 2001, p.81).
A Newsweek political analyst—Ann Coukter— cannot hide or suppress her prejudices and dangerous opinions about Islam and Arabs: she wrote an op-ed :
(33) The Quran is full of battle scenes and language—especially the notion
of jihad, or “holy war” (Newsweek, September 24, 2001, p.78)
(34) We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to
Christianity. (Newsweek, September 24, 2001,p.79)
Terrorism is also deliberately and implicitly associated with Arabs and Islam through the use of transliteration, the writing of Arabic words in Roman letters. Most of the transliterated words have religious connotations in these magazines:
jihad (Time September11, 2001)
fatwa (Time September11, 2001)
Allah (Newsweek, September11,2001, p.26, 36)
AlQaeda (Newsweek, September11, 2001, p.36)
shahid (Time, September24, 2001, p.39)
Bassamat al-farah (Time, September 24, 2001, p. 81)
5.2.4 Double Standards in the Representation of Muslims or Arabs
The ideologies adopted in these magazines are based on double standards. Dajani and Michelmor (1999) have claimed that the US media (as represented by Time) “conflate Islam, Arabs, violence, and terrorism into a single undifferentiated phenomenon”. I here present evidence that these concepts as employed in the same magazine (i.e. Newsweek) are not often intertwined or interconnected. Thus the Taliban Party members, who are viewed as enemies, receive the epithet ‘terrorists’ in the current discourse:
(36) The Taliban party in Afghanistan has been defined as “Islamic
extremists who are known for harboring terrorists (Newsweek
September 11, 2001, p.28)
However, the same Taliban fighters are called “rebels” or “mujahedin guerrillas or fighters” when referred to in the context of the Soviet war in Afghanistan:
(37) As a volunteer in the war that the Islamic rebels of Afghanistan fought
against the Soviets in the 1980s, Bin Laden had a front-row seat
(Newsweek, September11, 2001, p.56)
(38) Islamic rebels of Afghanistan (Time, September 24, 2001, p.56)
(39) mujahedin guerrillas fought off every major Soviet offensive in the
Penjshir valley (Newsweek, September 24, 2001, p.44)
(40) When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the Saudis sent
money to the mujahedin and glorified their cause. (Newsweek,
(41) The movement began in 1994, two years after mujahedin fighters had
overthrown the Soviet puppet regime in Kabul (Newsweek, October1,
5.3 The terrorist act in Oklohoma City
When the Oklahoma City Federal Building was bombed in 1995, “some politicians and commentators had fingered Islamic terrorists or Islamic fundamentalists” (cf. Blasing 1996) as the most likely culprits or perpetrators, “fueling anti-Muslim sentiment and triggering calls for tougher anti-immigration measures” (Time, May1, 1995, p.28). According to Blasing (1996),
the media-reinforced image of the machine-gun-toting Muslim
contributed to this backlash against Muslims in Oklahoma and
throughout the country. That many in the United States apparently
thought of Islam and terrorism as interconnected if not
synonymous only exacerbated the climate”.
Similarly, Brasted (1997) explains this hostile attitude towards Muslims and Islam:
The most recent example of such associations being drawn
occurred in Oklahoma City in the USA. In an article entitled,
“Counterblast”, it was reported that American anger was
being directed at Muslims as the likely perpetrators. The sub-
headline said it all: “Americans want someone to pay,
preferably a Muslim.
The Hate Crimes Resource Manual, which was published by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, accuses the US media of instigating Americans to commit hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims (Leek 2000:13):
In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, when the
media rushed to point blame at Arabs in the absence of
evidence. As a result, more than 200 hate crimes were
committed against Arab Americans and Muslims in the few
days when speculations were flying on news outlets.
But intense investigation revealed that it was an American citizen, Timothy McVeigh, who was responsible for reducing the Federal Building to rubble. The magazines do not attempt to provide any justification for the suicidal McVeigh who was known by a co-worker to hold “extreme right-wing views…and was particularly agitated about the conduct of the Federal Government at Waco Texas in 1993—so agitated, in fact, that he had visited the site” (Time, May1, 1995, p.28). Another event that motivated McVeigh to commit the crime was “the standoff behind Randy Weaver and the FBI that left Weaver’s wife dead” (Scott www.standford.edu/class)
It has so far been shown that the magazines employ words such as ‘terror’ or ‘terrorism’ to describe groups or individuals they disapprove of. As Scott puts it, “when describing these same events by individuals that are not Arab, the media is careful to appear neutral and unbiased” (ibid). In this section, an attempt is made to compare the language of Time and Newsweek in response to the New York-Washington disaster with that of Time in the wake of the Oklahoma blast. The treatment of the latter event shows that the principal perpetrator—McVeigh—was never referred to as a terrorist: he received epithets such as “bomber”, “accomplice”, or “zealot”. No final verdict was issued concerning a man like McVeigh, who is also referred to as “accused bomber”, “bombing suspect”, or “homegrown zealots”:
(42) The Oklahoma blast reveals the paranoid life and times of accused
bomber Timothy McVeigh and his right-wing associates (Time,
(43) On Friday as officers led bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh (Time,
May1, 1995, p.26)
(44) McVeigh was known by a co-worker to hold “extreme right-wing
views…(Time, May 1,1995, p.28)
(45) Homegrown zealots like McVeigh (Time, May1,1995, p.28)
(46) The bombing suspect (Time, May1, 1995, p. 29)
According to Time (of May 1, 1995), even the individuals who are closely associated with homemade terrorist groups are not terrorists but they are described as “suspected accomplice”, “supremacists”, “militia member” or “a member of white supremacist group”:
(47) Authorities were still looking for the suspected accomplice known
only as John Doe. (Time May1, 1995,p.26)
(48) The deaths of supremacist Randy Weaver’s wife and son in a 1992
Idaho confrontation and the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidians’
compound in Waco Texas, that resulted in the deaths of 82 cult
members including leader David Koresh” (Time, May1,1995,p.32.
(49) Mark Koernke, a prominent militia member who produces videos
promoting patriot ideas (Time, May1,1995,p.32)
(50) Richard Wayne Snell, a member of the white supremacist group The
Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of God was executed for the murder
of a Jewish businessman and a black officer. (Time, May1,1995, p.32)
The violent or terrorist religious groups in the United States such as “the Michigan Militias” or “the Davidians” are never called terrorists; they are labeled “the Arizona patriots”, “right-wing citizen militia”, “the Branch Davidian cult”, “the Christian Patriots”, etc.:
(51) The Arizona Patriots, a right-wing group that produces radio shows
and tapes denouncing the Federal Government. (Time, May1, 1995,
(52) Members of a right-wing citizen militia targeting government
agencies housed in the Alfred Murrah Building. (Time, May1,
(53) They were members of the North Texas Constitutional Militia, a
paramilitary group. (Time, May1,1995, p.29)
(54) The Branch Davidian cult went up in flames on April 19, 1993.
(Time, May1, 1995, p.30)
(55) The Christian Patriots and state “militias” largely in the Middle West
and West. (Time, May1, 1995, p.30)
(56) There is a religious component to the hard-bitten right (Time, May1,
(57) Right-wing antigovernment brigade founded in April
(58) Radical anti-environmentalists.(Time, May1,1995, p.32)
This paper has shown that Critical Discourse Analysis can be employed to expose the language of prejudice adopted in the US media. Two major American magazines, Time and Newsweek, have been selected for the study. The issues following the September 11 were particularly examined with the purpose of revealing how America was viewed as a victim in the aftermath of the attacks, and how accusations were leveled against Arabs, Muslims, and Islam even before starting any serious investigation. Dajani and Michelor’s claim that Arabs, Muslims, and terrorism are conflated “into a single undifferentiated phenomenon” have been shown to lack precision: the US magazines conflate Muslims and terrorism in certain contexts (e.g. if the US is the target). However, this conflation vanishes into thin air in a different context (e.g. the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan). It has also been argued that these magazines apply double standards in dealing with disasters and bombing incidents: if it turns out that the perpetrators of an attack are Arabs or Muslims, these magazines immediately call them “terrorists”; if it turns out that they are white Americans, they are complacently called anything but terrorists: patriots, Militias, right wings, etc. This has been illustrated by comparing the reaction of these magazines to the September 11 carnage and to the Oklahoma City bombing.
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