Postscript to Restrepo


There was a quite a large hole in my critique of Restrepo namely Said’s “Orientialism” and how the media presents Islam and terrorism. I tried to address this in a subsequent piece of critical media analysis:

Critical Media Analysis – Mohammad Merah

My decision to compare how the Guardian and the Daily Mail reported the same story was influenced by having recently read Terranova’s (2007) paper which led me Said’s (1978, 2003) Orientalism.

The Mail positions Merah early on in the article with the terms ‘Al Qaeda fanatic’ and ‘Toulouse terrorist’ and further on with ‘convicted Jihadist’. Language like this reinforces the hegemonic view, which newspapers like the Mail through their reporting steer public opinion, that Islam poses a threat to the Western way of life. The Guardian uses more neutral language in describing Merah as claiming “allegiance to al-Qaeda. The Guardian goes on to report the events surrounding the shooting of Merah quoting the police and French authorities. The Mail however, misuses information by saying ‘the fanatic is understood to have had contacts with fellow North African extremists living in Britain’. Where is the evidence to support such a claim? The language perpetuates and reinforces a particular vision of reality that Islamic extremists are working together to try and overthrow the West. This language will also confirm Daily Mail readers’ view of the world by appealing to their confirmational cognitive bias. The Mail makes other claims that it does not provide sources for and in fact even contradicts itself when it says Merah ‘was arrested by U.S. authorities in Afghanistan in 2008 and sent home to France’ but then says he ’broke out of an Afghanistan jail in 2008 as part of a mass Taliban escape’. By prefixing such claims with terms like [he] is understood and it has been reported the Mail can suggest that these are statement of fact. The Mail clearly is manipulating and misusing information to put forward a particular point of view while the Guardian tends to stick to reporting the facts. (Accessed 29 March 2012) (Accessed 29 March 2012)