2011: Volume 4, Issue 2, pp. 49-62

Change and Continuity in the Representation of British Muslims 
Before and After 9/11: The UK Context

Elizabeth Poole



9/11 is often marked out as a significant event in the current political and historical context in that it signalled a discernable shift to a new politics categorised in specific “Western” countries by the “war on terror”. Through an examination of British press representation of British Muslims over a 15 year period I show how this represents a continuation of processes that became more visible following 9/11. Starting in the period prior to 9/11, I argue that, despite an overall negativity within the British press, there was some negotiation of these spaces due to the various affiliations and allegiances of different groups who had an investment in specific constructions of “Britain” at particular moments. However, this resulted in the predominance of a “cultural clash” framework as Muslims became the focus of anxieties of living in an increasingly globalised world. Whilst these discursive debates have continued to dominate post-9/11, I examine the emergence of a security framework previously associated with world news. The aim is to provide an overview of patterns of coverage that might tell us something about the impact of various political events, most notably 9/11, on coverage. Other significant moments include the Iraq War, 2003 and the London bombings on July 7, 2007.



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