Islam and Mosque Developments in the Australian Media: A Literature Review


This paper is a literature review of current thinking on discursive representations of Islam in Australian media, particularly in relation to proposed mosque developments. Significantly, research into representations of Islam in Western media has increased since the events of 9/11 (Abu-Fadil 2005; Kothari 2013). This research has found that ‘Western media have generally failed to provide fair and balanced reporting of Islam’ (Abu-Fadil 2005, p. 1). Similarly, in an Australian context, further research demonstrates that the Muslim community has been portrayed very negatively through mainstream media (Akbarzadeh & Smith 2005; Al-Natour 2010; Dreher 2003; Kabir 2006; Pederson, Aly, Hartley & McGarty 2009; Saniotis 2004). One of the key theorists of representations of Islam in Australian media is Anne Aly (2010, 2007, 2006). Aly’s work ‘found that Australian Muslims were not given a voice amongst the dominant discourse of terrorism in Australian media and this marginalised them into the position of 'the Other'’ (McGregor 2013, p. 109). Additionally, Kevin Dunn argues that ‘Muslims proposing mosques and Islamic centres in Sydney [have been] portrayed as alien ‘Others’: as unknown, unfamiliar, foreign, mysterious and as threatening’ (2001, p. 304). Generally, it may be argued that these notions of ‘the Other’ stem from Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism (2003, 1997, 1994), by which the West views Islam as an inferior, strange and dangerous ‘Other’. Specifically, this literature review demonstrates how discourses of ‘Otherness’ continue to perpetuate negative connotations of Islam in Australian press through reports about individual, community & societal impacts of mosque developments.

Author Information
Caitlin McGregor, University of Newcastle, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: MediAsia2014
Stream: Communication Theory and Methodology

This paper is part of the MediAsia2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon