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Media Warfare and the Discourse of Islamic Revival: The Case of the Islamic State (IS)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MWDIR (Media Warfare and the Discourse of Islamic Revival: The Case of the Islamic State (IS))

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2017-02-01 do 2019-01-31

Broadly speaking, the developments and changes in dynamic of communication have challenged traditional notions in mass media scholarship e.g. media power, representation and audiences (KhosraviNik , 2014). A trajectory of such ‘notional’ change has affected norms of political communication in general and political activism in particular. ‘Ordinary’ users become part of production, consumption and distribution of content with few or no barriers in the form of traditional gate-keeping practices (Unger, Wodak, and KhosraviNik , 2015).
In such environment, radical movements exploit social media to mobilise new recruits by reinforcing certain discourses. In other words, IS employs strategic rhetorical propaganda by which it attracts not only (young) individuals from the Middle East, but also from EU countries, the United States of America and other regions. Increasingly, the radical and fundamentalist thrust of IS seems to be at odds with other Islamist movements, e.g. Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and even Al-Qaeda. The thorough review of the literature on these movements indicates that there are two overlapping discourses which dialectically feed into each other to form the essence of the IS worldview, namely the discourses of religious revival and political emancipation. The former is a manifestation of a universal propensity in all religions, faced with a perceived threat of modernity to their traditional established worldview. The latter is a political and ideological framework. This project claims that the rise and “success” of IS discourse is to be examined within a wider socio-political contextualisation of matters of identity, migration, multiculturalism, etc. As such, the current project has investigated the IS propaganda model based on Critical Discourse Analysis.
In examining the discourse of the Islamic State (IS), this study has aimed to answer the broad question: 1) How does IS construct itself in propagating its discourse worldwide? In answering this general question, the study aimed to answer these sub-research questions
1. What rhetorical propaganda devices are manifested in IS discourse?
2. What are the visual frames employed in IS’ self-constructions?
3. What conclusions can be drawn from analysis of IS discourse?

This project is important for the society in two dimensions:
1) This project contributes to understanding of IS’s ideological discourse and its impact and consequences for the EU. Without understanding the socio-political and cultural –religious dimensions and the ensemble of discourses that frame them, Islamic fundamentalism in general, and IS’ in particular, are liable to be discounted as merely fringe movements with an apocalyptic agenda. This project expounds security consequences for the EU that might rise from IS mobilization of people.
2) This project has contributed to the study of discourse of Islamist movements during times of crises or conflicts and on how this discourse has a high-impact on influential mechanisms that affect societies.

The overall objectives of the project were
1. To map the general politics of ethnicity, language and culture in the context of Islamist movements.
2. To examine language representation, i.e. the specific perspectives from which Islamist movements are constructed and the language used in their texts or talks to assign meanings to them and their social practices.
3. To critically examine the power relations between the discourse of Islamist movements and their self-representation.
The researcher has performed several actions inside and outside the host university in collaboration with and under supervision and guidance of the supervisor. In this report, I divide the actions into academic/scientific, publicity/engagement and training.
1. Academic actions:
-Reviewing Literature and Setting up the Methodological Approach.
-Pilot Study and Data Analysis.

In doing these actions, several deliverables have been done:
- Submitting a research report on studies on IS in multi-disciplinary studies to my supervisor.
- Submitting a report to the supervisor on the data collected from social media (YouTube).
- Organising several meetings with PhD students at Newcastle University. Those students worked on IS and war reporting. These meetings discussed challenges and applicability of CDA in Social Media and in media studies.
- Writing a journal paper on challenges in data collection and analysis in social media.
- Organising a training session with PhD and MA students on how to collect data from YouTube.

2. Publicity/engagement with public
To publicise the results of the analysis, I have highly engaged with various audiences in different places, institutes and countries. This strategy included participation in meetings, conferences and workshops. The aim was to raise awareness of IS' propaganda, discourse, philosophy and politics. The publicity and engagement with public has been conducted throughout the whole period of the project.

Teaching and Presentation for students. I have engaged in teaching some lectures as a guest lecturer at Media, Culture and Heritage department.
Visiting Research. I have also been engaged with research groups outside Newcastle University.

Workshops and meetings and engagement with Marie Curie. Also, I have been engaged with Marie Curie Alumni Association and Marie Curie Actions Association.

For public community, I have organized a guest lecture at the Oriental and African Studies Institute at Hamburg University (Germany).

I have been trained in several dimensions at Newcastle University: computer software to analyse data, Collect Data from social media platforms
"The analysis of the data has shown that IS uses every possible means in exploiting social media to mobilise and recruit people. The so-called ""Islamic State"" has enthusiastically embraced and capitalised on new communicative affordances of the participatory web. Obviously, the rise and “success” of IS discourse needs to be examined towards the analysis of IS’s social media practices within a wider socio-political contextualisation of matters of identity, migration, multiculturalism, etc. In applying SM-CDS, the analysis comes up with major findings in regard to IS’s social media practices and tactics. These findings can be summarised as follows:

A) Share, Distribution and Dissemination of IS’s publications online, e.g. videos, photos, texts, …etc.
A) Create fake or anonymous accounts on social media platforms
B) Make and publish videos and films of high quality

In exploring IS’s visual frames and legitimation, IS builds its legitimations on several strategies in analysing IS videos on burning the Jordanian pilot:
• IS’s indictment against the Jordanian Regime of Betrayal and Espionage
• The pilot’s participation in the military airstrikes on the IS-controlled areas
• The king of Jordan is represented as apostate.
• The king Abdullah is accused of sending pilots to fight against the Islamic State’s jihadist
• Facing a military judgement with evidences

In consideration of current initial results and the challenges facing researching social media and terrorism, we can highlight the following implications:
1. Highlighting Security Threats at Local and International Levels: more terrorism and violent actions
2. Building and Networking: and Creating Online Radical Community