Scholarly article on topic 'Pakistani Women as Objects of "Fear" and "Othering"'

Pakistani Women as Objects of "Fear" and "Othering" Academic research paper on "Media and communications"

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Academic research paper on topic "Pakistani Women as Objects of "Fear" and "Othering""



■ • i • % a. W • a f LL^ 99 October-December 2014: 1-13

Pakistani women as Obiects of "Fear" © The Author(s) 2014

■ . yy DOI: 10.1177/2158244014556990

and Othering sg^sag^^c^

Bushra Hameedur Rahman1


The study uses Said's concept of Orientalism and van Dijks concept of socio-cognitive processes to analyze the framing of Pakistani Muslim women in the newsmagazine Time from 1998-2002. A critical discourse analysis of the selected articles of the magazine follows Fairclough's and van Dijk's guidelines. It uncovers how in a particular socio-political context, stereotyped images of Pakistani Muslim women were framed to project "superior American" ideals of "tolerance" and "democracy," as against the "intolerant," "undemocratic" values of Muslim as "others." It also argues how in the process of "othering" Pakistan and particularly its youth are framed as intolerant, and source of fear.


critical discourse analysis, Orientalism, Muslim women, othering, Pakistan, neo-Orientalism


After 9/11, and to some extent even before 9/11, though less saliently, the discourses on terrorism, in the war against terror, have been of a global battle between "Us" and "them," as "Us" the West and the "other" as Muslims. The "other" have become the objects of fear, concern, and suspicion. The Western values of "democracy" and "freedom" are framed as superior ones as compared with the "others" religious values. This has promoted a collective identity of "Us" as the victims and "them" as the objects of fear and suspicion (Aly, 2005). Though, overtly the politicians assert that the "war on terror" is not against Islam and Muslim, by inference Muslims are identified as objects of threat. Islam is considered as a real challenge to the alleged Judeo-Christian heritage of Europe. Islamophobia is considered to be just not simple hostility against Islam but as a possible threat to European-Western values as against Islamic values which might come as a consequence to multicultural contacts (Marranci, 2004).

In recent years, marred by racism and ethnocentrism, the attitudes toward Muslims and especially toward Muslim women have become harsher in the media. The image of Muslim women as submissive, oppressed, and backward is constructed and reinforced by the Western mass media (Darvishpour, 2003; Macdonald, 2003; Siddiqui, 1997). The media is also considered to be the most frequently cited "place" of racism and abuse of Arab and Muslim Australians (Poynting & Noble, 2004). There has been a gradual shift from anti-Asian and anti-Arab to anti-Muslim feeling after 9/11 in Britain and Australia (Poynting & Mason, 2007). Imtoual (2005) argues that Australian print media has created an atmosphere of hostility and negativity toward Islam and

Muslims living in Australia, through instances of racism and negative stereotyping. She argues that dailies of Australia are responsible in fanning the religious racism which is faced by Australian Muslims on daily basis. In the symbolic representation of Muslim women and veil, Australian media is considered to represent the ideological interests of Western nations (Byng, 2010).

American news media is also held responsible for often oversimplifying and decontextualizing foreign affairs issues to the American public ignoring native symbolism (Fahmy,

2004). The U.S. press has shown an obsession with the veil of Muslim women. Their roles are narrowly constructed and projected in the print media of the United States (Falah,

2005). Roushanzamir (2004) argues that the American press' prevailing mode of referring to Iranian women has been reduced to the symbol of "chador," evoking violence and repressed sexuality, reactionary social practices, and religious fanaticism. This image proves to be an effective method of capturing the attention of American readers. The popular American mainstream media also predominantly associates the veil of Muslim women with oppression (Bullock, 2000; Fazaeli, 2007). The Orientalist representation of Muslim women in veil and "burqa" enhances their construction of identities as oppressed and backward (Mehdi, 1994; Zine, 2006), who is in need of the West to liberate and rescue her (Mishra, 2007).

University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan Corresponding Author:

Bushra H. Rahman, Assistant Professor, Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab, 194 Shadman 2, Lahore 54000, Pakistan. Email:

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Likewise, in the case of Afghan women, the need to protect the Afghan women was apparent in the media text. This tradition draws much of its rhetorical force from discourses of imperialism (Eide, 2004; Klaus & Kassel, 2005; Stabile & Kumar, 2005), and usually the stories about their oppression is not due to their culture (Abu-Lughod, 2013). Analyses show that the issue of "burqa" was so dominantly covered in the media that it marginalized the coverage of Afghan women's other social and economic issues like education and refugee situation (Fahmy, 2004; Fisk, 2004). Even the treatment of political women of Pakistan in the U.S.-based international media was quite different from the non-political women of Pakistan. Pakistani women are mostly portrayed in the oppressed context whereas women politicians were portrayed to be emancipated by adopting Western liberal ideals. Over a period of time, the Muslim woman has acquired the image of someone who needs to be "freed" and thus requires the West to play the knight in shining armor to liberate her from the constraints of the religion, particularly veil (Rahman, 2010).

This academic endeavor is to understand how the construction of identity, in the present case Pakistani Muslim women, is bound up with ideological bias and power. The objective is to uncover how systematically, in a particular historical and socio-political context, stereotype images of Muslim women are framed in the U.S. magazines.

In this context, the present study is the critical discourse analysis (CDA) of how the image of Pakistani Muslim women was portrayed in the U.S. magazine, Time, to frame the Western ideals as "superior" ones against Islamic ones? How, in the selected articles in the Time magazine, the images of Pakistani women were framed as a source of threat or fear to the Western ideals of "tolerance" and "liberalism"?

Rationale for Selecting Newsmagazine Time

Reason for selecting newsmagazine in the study is that newsmagazines are considered to be one of the most successful "new" magazine formulas, or genre. The newsmagazines compete with the newspapers and existing magazines very directly, providing extensive news coverage and commentary. Time magazine is chosen as it is a mainstream, U.S.-based, prestigious international publication which has one of the largest circulation of any newsmagazine. Furthermore, it represents one of the main opinion leader roles in the United States and abroad. Its target audience consists of educated and relatively well-off people who have an important decision-making role in American and global society. Its image is that of serious, objective, and in-depth coverage of international and domestic affairs, often serving as a reference on political and business information (Erjavec, 2004).

Theoretical Frameworks

Orientalism and Neo-Orientalism

Orientalism is the ethnocentric vision which dominates current representations of Islam, which are reductive and predominantly negative. It argues that only a few stereotypes are offered, Muslims are homogenized as backward, irrational, unchanging fundamentalists, threatening manipulative misogynists who use their faith for political and personal gain. They are characterized with having politically unstable governments and movements (Poole, 2002).

The underline assumption of the theory of Orientalism is that the superior West ("Us") has to assist and govern the inferior Orient. This is however not an overt practice in modern times, rather it has been done in subtle ways. The minds of the "others" are managed through text and talk. Such mind management is not always bluntly manipulative. On the contrary, dominance is enacted and reproduced by subtle, routine, everyday forms of text and talk that appear natural and quite "acceptable." This idea is sold to the Orient to get willing acceptance from the Orient to accept the superiority of Western liberal thought (Said, 2003). Said (2001) maintains that Orientalism has led the West to see Islamic culture as static in time and place, giving the West a sense of its own cultural and intellectual superiority.

The concept of Orientalism has been revisited by some scholars in the light of the concept of globalization which includes the concept for "deterritorialization" and "intercon-nectedness" (Scheuerman, 2014). These concepts explain that in today's world, any event in any part of the world also has an effect on other parts of the world. Hence, if anything happens to "others" also affect the "Us." This has led to the belief that Orientalism as an ideology now belongs to a period of history which is behind us, and we are now moving "beyond Orientalism." The sharp divide between Occident and Orient is now outdated.

However, it is also naive to think that the preconditions responsible for the Orientalist discourses are no longer in place. In fact, the divide between West and Islam still exists in new forms and is shaping new paradigm which is called "neo-Orientalism" (Samiei, 2009). It reflects that Islam and democracy are not compatible (Samiei, 2009). Islam is essentialized as the basic reason for the division. Dag Tuastad (2003) considers portrayal of the Muslims and Arabs in the media as "new barbarism." According to him, this new barbarism ignores the political and economic interests in the local contexts and focuses on the political violence as a direct result of deep-rooted cultural factors which spring out from Islam. According to Tuastad, the waves of neo-Orientalism and new barbarism has further divided the West and Islam, and serve the hegemonic strategies to justify the continuous political and economic invasion on the Muslim countries (Tuastad, 2003).

Hellmich further argues that the academic scholarship is restricted due to oversimplification of Islamic thought. In the process of oversimplification of the complexities of Islam, the issues of Islam and Muslims are misunderstood and misrepresented (Hellmich, 2008). His contention is that in neo-Orientalism, the local and specific regional movements of Muslims are all squashed in trying to explain them in one homogeneous discourse of Islamist terrorism. All the movements in any Muslim country are considered to be enemies of civilized world. The followers are considered to be "crazy madmen" following an irrational ideology (p. 111).

Theory of Media Hegemony

Orientalism may further be enmeshed with the concept of hegemony. In common usage, hegemony means domination or rule by one state or nation over another. Rules are based on overt power and at times covert power. Hegemony is more subtle and pervasive power delineator (Berger, 2005). Mass media perpetuates the hegemony of the ruling class through ideology. Ideology in this context means a view of the world or social reality which is manufactured and manipulated for specific purposes.

Orientalism and neo-Orientalism corresponds with the concept of hegemony by sharing the assumption of a superior "Us" who has to assist and govern the inferior Orient. This is however not an overt practice in modern times, rather it has been done in subtle ways. This idea has to be sold to the Orient to get willing acceptance from the Orient to accept the superiority of Western liberal thought.

Thus theory of media hegemenoy maintains that the media reinforce the "dominant ideology" as being normal or simply acceptable. It is not realized that the "dominant ideology" is in fact a distorted view that has been created to suit the needs or interests of the few. The majority gets a strongly warped view of the world that reinforces the interests of those in power at the expense of the majority. The ideological work lies in the patterns within the media texts. Ideas and attitudes that are routinely included in the media become part of the legitimate public debate.

The concept of "dominance" as defined by van Dijk (2001) is the exercise of social power by elites, institutions, or groups that result in social inequality, including political, cultural, class, ethnic, racial, and gender inequality. It is at this crucial point where in hegemony or dominance and CDAs merge. As managing the minds of others is essentially a function of text and talk, such mind management is not always bluntly manipulative. On the contrary, dominance may be enacted and reproduced by subtle, routine, everyday forms of text and talk that appear natural and quite "acceptable" (p. 301).

Socio-Cognitive Theory

Van Dijk (2001) uses socio-cognitive theory to understand the complex relation of the three: ideology, opinion, and

media. He elaborates that at one level of analysis, opinions and ideologies involve beliefs or mental representations and so the approach therefore first takes cognitive perspective. On the second level, the ideologies and opinions of media are usually not personal but social, institutional, or political. This requires an account in terms of social or societal structures. He integrates both approaches into one socio-cognitive theory that deals with shared social representations and their acquisition and uses in social contexts. Further to examine ideologically based opinions in subtle textual expression, the socio-cognitive approach is embedded in a discourse analytical approach.

Van Dijk's (2001) socio-cognitive approach corresponds with Said's analysis of the Orientalist (Western Scholar of the Orient). According to Said, the analysis of the Orientalist is also a very effective tool to study Orientalism. Said maintains that the Orientalist is all present in his discussions of the Orient and the Orient itself is absent. And the Orientalist's interpretive activity is thus is as a "superior judge, a learned man."

To examine how the superior "Us" discourses of the United States are hidden while framing the images of Pakistani Muslim women, the researcher uses the socio-cog-nitive interface theory projected by van Dijk. According to the framework sketched by van Dijk (adapted to the researcher's requirement of the study), a non-Muslim, Westerner (male/female) media practitioner while framing a Pakistani woman keeps in mind the perceived picture of her, Islam, and his or her own personal opinions. He or she then frames her in that context which is largely biased in the oriental discourse.

These socio-cognitive processes, with underlying racist discourse production, may be largely unintentional as inten-tionality is irrelevant in establishing whether discourses or other acts may be interpreted as being racist (van Dijk, 2004). However, these processes of ideological construction are also imbued with power relations, as those who own the structures have the power to represent society according to their norms and values.

These theoretical frameworks helps me to deconstruct the "taken-for-granted" superior "Us" concepts of the United States imbedded in the text while positioning Pakistani Muslim women as potentially dangerous. The analysis is focused on how they are predominantly represented in terms of socio-cultural differences and how the representation of Pakistani cultural norms that deviate from dominant norms and values of the West are demonized and magnified and failings of the West are ignored or mitigated (van Dijk, 1998). Furthermore, it tries to unfold how in the selected articles in overt and covert ways the images of Muslim Pakistani women are framed to disparage the Islamic values against the "superior" the US ideals?

CDA: Framework for Analyzing Media Discourse

The approach to discourse analysis followed in the study is the CDA of Fairclough and van Dijk. CDA has produced

majority of the research into media discourse during the 1980s and 1990s, and has more or less become the standard framework for studying the media texts within European linguistics and discourse studies (Bell & Garret, 2001; Wodak, 2004). CDA is best viewed as a shared perspective encompassing a range of approaches rather than as just one school of thought. According to van Dijk (2001), CDA aims to know how exactly the power is exhibited by the powerful speakers or groups. And if they thus are able to persuade or otherwise influence their audiences, and which discursive structures and strategies are involved in that process.

To Fairclough (1995), the concept of discourse is to refer to spoken or written language usage and Fairclough further extends it to include other types of semiotic activity, that is, activity that produces meaning, such as visual images (photography, film, video, etc.) and non-verbal communication. To him, language use in any text is simultaneously representative of social identities, social relations, and systems of knowledge and belief.

Message in the media is expressed not only linguistically but also through a visual arrangement of marks on a page. Any form of text analysis that ignores this will not be able to account for all the meanings expressed in texts. In this regard, the work of Kress and van Leeuwen (2001) is significant. The writers have considered that layout involves different signifying systems, all serving to structure the text, to bring the various elements of the page. Along with this, the work of Fiske (1982) is used as a guideline for visuals analysis. It is said that even if the images are not staged, they still need to be selected in a frame. These selections of the frames then shape the interpretation of the world (Fahmy, 2004).


From a preliminary analysis, it was concluded that a small sample of issues would result in an unfair representation of Muslim women coverage. Throughout the selected period, stories or pictures of Pakistani Muslim women were distributed in various proportions. If random samples were taken, the risk of missing important instances of their coverage would have been high; therefore, every issue of Time from January 1979 till December 2002 was chosen to isolate any coverage on non-political Pakistani Muslim women as seen by average reader.

I first carefully examined the Table of Contents for each issue of Time and browsed through every page to ensure that no coverage on Pakistani Muslim women was missed. Then I selected those items from the entire newsmagazine which had reference of Pakistani women either in the text or in the picture.

To answer the research questions about how the American ideals were projected as "superior ones" as compared with Islamic "inferior ones" using the image of a Pakistani Muslim woman, I analyzed the written text, pictures, and the layout.

In the written text, I have looked into the headlines, the overall theme, and the linguistic choices and analyzed how the superior "in-group" and inferior "out-group" identities were established in the articles and were given prominence. With subtle ordering and hierarchization of voices, the difference between the two is maintained. The prominence given to the two positions was seen by looking into the beginning, middle, and the end of the article apart from assessing the space given to each position.

Attention was paid to the surrounding features of the position represented in the text. Is the framing done in a subtle manner or is blatantly manipulative? For example, I looked into the reporting verbs which questioned the credibility of the voice being represented. The way the writer of the article referred to the sources without referring to the context or position of the source.

Similarly, I have looked into the semantic moves—when sometimes one clause may express a proposition that realizes one strategy and the next clause is a proposition that realizes the other strategy—typically called "disclaimers" (van Dijk, 2001, p. 39).

For the analysis of the representation of the two positions, I point out what was excluded, what is explicit and what is implicit, and what is foregrounded and what is backgrounded. Through this process, I have tried to look into how the text presupposes a position—what was left unsaid but taken as a given. Presuppositions are what French discourse analysts call "preconstructed" elements in a text, elements which have been constructed elsewhere in other texts (Fairclough, 1995). The unsaid, the presupposed, is of particular importance in ideological analysis. Ideologies are generally embedded within the implicit meaning of a text rather than being explicit.

Similarly, the analyses include the propositions made in the text through lexical choices, syntactic structure of a sentence. The strategy of polarization—positive in-group description and negative out-group description—has the following abstract evaluative structure, which is called the ideological square. If the ideological square is applied, one may expect that the "Our" in this case is "American" and "Their" (Muslim Pakistani woman) will in general tend to be described at a lower, more specific level, with many detailed propositions. The opposite will be true for "Our bad actions" and "their good ones"; which if described at all will be described in rather general, abstract, and hence distanced terms without giving much detail (van Dijk, 2001, p. 33).

I have also analyzed the pictures at denotative level, the first order of signification. Each sign is treated like a phrase in a sentence. Second order of signification is in the light of myth and connotation. Along with this, the captions, their position, and the type-face, which all underline the connotations, are also analyzed. Barthes uses the term anchorage to describe the function of the words used as captions for photographs. This tells us simply what the photograph is of, and

Table 1. Year-Wise Coverage of Pakistani Muslim Women in the Time Magazine (N = 10).

Year Image of Muslim Pakistani women

1998 3

2001 2 2002 5

Figure 1. Yes to nukes: Activists gather in Karachi to press Pakistan to set off its own explosions.

Table 2. Reference of Muslim Pakistani Women in Time

Magazine 1979-2002 (N = 10).

Reference Frequency %

picture only 1 10

text and picture 5 50

Whole story on Muslim women 4 40

thus helps us to locate it accurately within our experience of the world. At the second order, then the words direct the reader to understand the picture in a particular way. They tell the reader, sometimes why the photograph was considered worth taking and frequently how we should read it. They direct the reader toward what Stuart Hall has called a "preferred meaning."

Framing Muslim Pakistani Women

The quantitative findings show that in the Time magazine from 1998 till 2002 from the total of 57 articles on Pakistan which had a reference of Pakistani women, 47 articles were on women politicians, particularly of Ms. Benazir Bhutto, the first woman prime minister of Pakistan. Only 10 articles had reference of non-political Pakistani Muslim women. In the year 2002, 5 articles were on her and 3 articles appeared in the Time Magazine in the year 1998, the year in which Pakistan tested its first nuclear bomb (Table 1). The increased coverage in the year 2002 can be explained in the context that after 9/11 the coverage on Muslim world had generally increased and so was the case with Pakistani women.

Further quantitative findings show (Table 2) that out of 10 articles, 1 article did not have any reference of Pakistani woman in the text but only had her pictures. Four articles were exclusively on her. Five articles contained both her reference in the picture and in the text. For CDA, keeping in mind the political context of the years 1998 and 2002, I have selected two articles from these 2 years. One article contains only a picture of a Pakistani women and the other is the whole story on a Pakistani Muslim woman.

Excerpt I

1st June, 1998 (Time) Title: To Test or Not To Test

In this article, there is no reference of Pakistani women in the text. The general theme of the whole article is that how dangerous it would be for Pakistan to have an atomic bomb. In Figure 1, Muslim women in "burqa" (head to toe garment) are demanding to go nuclear. This demand from the women who are wearing "burqa," who are addressed as "activists" in the caption, conveys the message that the religious women "fanatics" are demanding to go "nuclear" and reinforcing their image as a symbol of potential threat and fear.

The protest paradigm is rooted in the notion that media acts as agents of social control, particularly when the protest group opposes the status quo by attempting to change current conditions, norms, and policies. So depending on the contexts, the more a group deviates from the status quo regarding its goals, the more likely the media will act to marginalize or deplore the group. In the present case, protest group of Pakistani Muslim women in burqa is regarded as a deviant group, which challenges the status quo of Western notions of liberal society. The text or picture is considered to be threatening when the image of Muslim women is used to depict

"rising Islamic fundamentalism" demanding nuclear explosion.

According to Kress and van Leeuwen (2001), the elements (pictures/news story) placed at the top of the page are considered to be as "ideal" and those placed at the bottom as the "real." For something to be ideal means that it is presented as the idealized or generalized essence of information. The placing of the picture at the top signifies generalized information,

This story was published exactly a year after the 9/11 tragedy. Taliban's government was toppled, and whatever resistance the United States was facing at that time was from the "Taliban's who had taken safe haven in Pakistan." Though, Pakistan was a strong ally of United States in the war against terrorism, Pakistan was still looked at with suspicion. This article argues that using an image of a Pakistani young girl, in an overt and covert manner, Pakistan was projected as a threat to the U.S. ideals of "tolerance," "peace," and "democracy." This is done by framing Islam as a religion

which is explained in the text. In other words, this image of Muslim women at the top of the article is used as metonymy, that is, the meaning can be applied to the whole of Pakistan, and it is a reflection of what is happening in Pakistan. The picture signifies that women in burqa are violent and emotional, a symbol to be afraid of. The combination of this image with an atomic bomb further accentuates the proposition that women of Pakistan are a threat to the world peace.

of "intolerance" and militancy. The article argues how in the process of "othering," Pakistan was framed as intolerant, and a source of fear.

The macro-proposition of the article is apparent in the title, "MTV or the Muezzin"—a clash between West and Islam, which is depicted in the two symbols MTV, a music Channel, and a Muezzin, a man who calls for prayers (Figure 2). This contrast is also one of the popular discourses of the West about Islam as a religion which stands against all the symbols of Western form of entertainment especially music.

Excerpt II

9th September, 2002 (Time)

The Muslim Teen

Title: MTV or the Muezzin

by Tim Mcgirkphotographs by Kate Brooks

Figure 2. At home in a suburb of Lahore, Pakistan.

This title is further qualified by the topic title at the top "The Muslim Teen" in white font next to the red box. The red color next to the Muslim teen signifies a threat from the Muslim teen.

A substantial proportion of media output consists of narratives. One obvious reason why narratives are so prominent in the media is that the very notion of reporting centrally involves recounting past events, that is, telling the story of what happened, and much of media output consists of or includes reports. Journalists don't get people to see things and to act in certain ways, and aim to entertain. The concept of story suggests this multiplicity of purpose, in that one normally thinks of stories as forms of entertainment and diversion, and often fictional rather than factual. Claude Levi-Strauss identified the importance of opposition in the development of narrative structures. He argues stories move from one stage to another by positioning a conflict between two opposing elements or qualities that characters have to resolve. This clash of binary oppositions organizes the narrative (Izadi & Saghaye-Biria, 2007).

There are two facets of a narrative, one is the actual story, a basic and chronologically ordered series of events including the participants involved in them; and second is the presentation, the way in which the story is realized and organized as a particular text. The selected article also, in a story form, moves from one stage to another by two elements, West and Islam.

The picture of a young girl, who apparently is not a strict follower of Islam, as she is wearing sleeveless dress, is a posed image contributing to the main theme of the article. The way she is positioned and the caption are of main interest. The impression in the picture is that she is standing in her house and the backdrop is of the Badshahi Masjid, which is situated in the walled city of Lahore, a very congested, lower-middle class of the city, but from the text and the way she is dressed, it shows that she belongs to an elite society of Pakistan and elite in Lahore does not live in this part of the city.

The full-page size of the picture and the mid-shot asks for direct attention of the reader to establish empathy with the image. The pensive look of Sana compels the reader to develop a feeling of involvement. When the caption of the picture is combined with the picture, "At home in a suburb of Lahore, Pakistan," it reinforces the main theme of the article that Sana is at home in Pakistan where Masjid (Mosque) plays an important role. Masjid signifies the theocratic nature of the country. The contrast of the Masjid is with her dress, which is a sleeveless red shirt and casually worn "dupatta" (kind of a scarf, an integral part of a typical Pakistani dress shalwar and kameez), that reinforces the main proposition of the article where a young Pakistani Muslim woman is in a dilemma to choose between her "belief" and the West, as the presupposition is that the two are in contrast to each other.

In the second picture (Figure 3), Sana is sitting with her friends, who apparently belong to the same class,

Figure 3. CULTURE CLASH: Spider-Man brightens the café where Sana, in red, and her friends hangout in Lahore.

in a fast-food restaurant. In the backdrop, a big poster of Spider-Man is very prominent. The caption says "CULTURE CLASH: Spider-Man brightens the café where Sana, in red, and her friends hangout in Lahore." It is also a posed image to reinforce the theme of the article. The picture when understood with the caption indicates that though there is a "culture clash," the "Spider-Man" symbolizing one culture brightens the café, establishing the superiority of U.S. culture as against the one where she is living. Spider-Man is also an American icon of good against the evil. The presupposition in the caption is that had there been no Spider-Man, the café would have been a dull one. This picture of the girls sitting under this poster also signifies how the American lifestyle dominates the lives of the young girls of Pakistan. Another interesting feature of this picture is the highlighted quote right under the picture. It states "This was hypocrisy. Why is an Afghan S life worth any less than American's?" This highlighted quote performs two functions: one it

Table 3. The Presuppositions of Good and Bad in the Selected Text of the Newsmagazine Time.

Good Bad

Western clothing Purdah

Secularism Religion

TV Quran

MTV Muezzin

Marriage by choice Arranged marriage

America Home

Fight in Afghanistan Fight against Americans in Afghanistan

mitigates the effect of the counter discourse in the form of a quote of Sana placed right under Sana's picture where she herself is leading two lives. And second, it establishes the reason for the growing intolerance in the Pakistani society

The article uses a narrative style to show the binary oppo-sites in the story. The article starts with the everyday routine of Sana, which is "typical" of an elite-class routine. The symbols used in the first paragraph show that Sana's lifestyle has a lot of American influence. The rest of the analysis will trace how the discourses of the superior "Us" and inferior "them" are located in the article.

Throughout the article, the binary opposites on which the story narrative revolves are reflected in Table 3. It is interesting to note how religious symbols are in the category of bad and all the symbols of United States are considered to be good or superior.

MTV or the Muezzin

Just home from school on an ordinary afternoon, Sana Shah, 16, plops down her books, shakes out her hair and heads upstairs to watch some TV. She .switches the set in her parents' to Roswell and kicks her younger brother and sister off the couch. "Teenage identity crises," grumbles her mother, who is trying to nap on the bed. "What nonsense."

This comforting after-school scene could be happening anywhere in America, but outside the bedroom window, wild green parrots are feasting on berries in a Jammun tree, and from a distance comes the scratchy voice of a muezzin revving his loudspeaker for the afternoon prayer call. Sana and her family live in a wealthy suburb of Lahore, Pakistan, where her satellite television pulls in the standard Pakistani and American fare: MTV, friends, syrupy Pakistani romances, a few minutes of Oprah until something better comes along. But a year ago, the images stopped being such a laugh.

On Sep. 11, Sana and her mother watched the little TV by the bed in numb horror. First the dissolving towers, then the furious retaliation: Muslim-owned shops in the US being trashed and burned, Arab-looking cabbies dragged from their cars and beaten. "We were both in shock," recalls Sana who telephoned her brother, a student in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that first night to make sure he was O.K.

The story is set with the Sana's mothers annoyed comment, "identity crisis," who is trying to take an afternoon nap in the midst of "scratchy voice of a muezzin" who is "reviving his loud speaker for the afternoon prayer call." The proposition is that the mother is trying to avoid the sound and the muezzin is "reviving" the "call for prayers," a symbol for religious revivalism. And Sana is in midst of these two opposite worlds which is apparently quite normal. However a turning point comes on September 11, when soon after the "dissolving towers" Muslims were targeted and she had to call her brother in the United States to inquire if he was alright.

Sana believes she has earned the right to think of herself as a citizen of the world—she has been to the U.S. and has expansive tolerant outlook on global affairs. But it has been sorely tested this year, she comes from a line of Punjabi soldiers (her mother is the daughter of a famous army general, her father an economist) and she inherited the dark, piercing eyes of a hunter, an a stoic determination she would need in the months after Sept. 11, when she felt caught between Islam and America, the two worlds she loves. Rising Islamic militancy in Pakistan made her question the roots of her faith, but America's Military response to the New York City and Washington attacks made her profoundly disillusioned. "America wanted vengeance by killing Afghans," she says, her voice quavering at first—as if she is uncertain how forthright to be with an American visitor—then gaining strength and fluency. "That was wrong. Those Afghans were just as innocent as the poor people who died in the World Trade towers," she says.

The presupposition is that United States is the champion of the "tolerant outlook on global affairs." As Sana has been to the United States, she has developed a "tolerant outlook." She is caught between the two worlds she loves. Notice the use of binary opposites here: one is Islam and the other is America. It is not Pakistan and America. It is one faith against another country. In other words, one can see the implicit proposition, that whatever Islam stands for is the opposite of what America stands for. Also notice that for the "rising Islamic militancy" no cause is given whereas, the America's military response is a reaction to the Islamic militancy. The phrase rising "Islamic Militancy" also presupposes that militancy is inherent in Islam and it is on the rise, making Sana question the "roots of her faith."

The day after Sept. 11, Sana wanted to wear something special— something defiant—to school. So she pulled on a T shirt that said SEEDS OF PEACE. An essay she had written in the spring of 2001 about the plight of Lahore's street kids had won her a trip in August to a Maine camp sponsored by a New York group called Seeds of Peace, which brings together young people from war-torn regions around the world. "Before going to camp, I was scared. I didn't want to associate with Jews and Hindus," recalls Sana. "But we all became good friends." Swimming in the lake and talking around the campfire late at night, they found that the anger they had brought with them from the war zones

seemed to melt away. When she returned home, not many of her classmates sympathized with her change of heart. In Pakistan, Jews and Hindus were supposed to be the enemy.

On September 12, it was even worse: Sana still believed in peace, but few others in her school did. "They'd grab at my T shirt and say, 'Is this the peace you made at that fancy camp?'" she says. "They kept throwing that in my face, and it made me want to cry. "

It was pandemonium that day inside the all-girl Lahore Grammar School, one of the country's most prestigious places of learning. Its curriculum is liberal and Western oriented; its students, the daughters of Pakistan's elite, look upon the U.S. as a second home, a place where relatives routinely find success.

These are kids who should love America but don't. After the towers fell, their loyalties were firmly with Osama bin Laden. "There were girls in my class who loved him," says Sana. "We all thought Osama was a champion of downtrodden Muslims."

Between classes, the girls passed around magazines with bin Laden photographs swooned over his "soulful" eyes. They saw him as a man who walked away from his air-conditioned palace to live in a cave in Afghanistan to avenge the wrongs committed against Muslims. "He was our Robin Hood" Sana. "Some of my friends defended Bin Laden, because they thought he . . . (missing text) out the bombings, while others thought the U.S. was accusing him unjustly. " Sana belonged to the latter camp.

The proposition is that though she is for "peace," after 9/11 things are very confusing for her. The dilemma that she is in after 9/11 is depicted through the shirt she has worn immediately after the incident. Particular reference to New York group called Seeds of Peace also symbolizes that New York stands for peace. And because she has been part of the camp, she also believes in peace. Not only this, she is a champion of peace for one, she has been to America; second, she belongs to an educated family; and third, she is studying in a school which has a "liberal and Western oriented curriculum."

The proposition is that on 9/11, even in all girls' most prestigious school of Pakistan, there was an uproar and chaos. The presupposition is that, it is a prestigious school for it has a "liberal and Western oriented" curriculum. So these kids "look upon the U.S. as second home" as "a place where relatives routinely find success." These kids should also "love America" for America welcomes them and is responsible for their success. The implication is, see how on the one side America is benevolent and on the other side, look at "them," they hate America. They "grab" her shirt, signifying the aggressive attitude of the girls of her school.

The sentence "After the towers fell, their loyalties were firmly with Osama bin Laden" indicate that they did not sympathize with the victims of 9/11 but with the person who is responsible for it. Notice the shift in the pronouns of what Sana says, "There were girls," "We all thought Osama."

How first others "loved" Osama and then how she includes herself to be in favor of Osama. A contradiction in what she believed in and what she was showing "for there was a change of heart" after coming from the Seeds of Peace camp. At the camp, the Jews and Hindus had all become "good friends." But back home, not many of class mates "sympathized with her change of heart," as in Pakistan, Jews and Hindus were supposed to be the enemy. So it is the United States which brought the enemies together otherwise "back home" there is enmity.

The love for Osama as indicated in the article could not have been possible, for in Pakistan, girls belonging to such an elite school, which has "liberal" and "Western orientated" curriculum, can't possibly have "loved" Osama—as he was associated with the Talibans in Afghanistan and Talibans due to their "oppressive" measures toward women were very unpopular in Pakistan, particularly in the class to which Sana belonged. It is hard to accept that girls of this class would accept Osama as a "champion of downtrodden Muslims." One fails to understand how author inferred that Osama enjoyed such a reputation with them.

The time sequence context in the article seems manipulated for the next day on 12th September when Sana went to school there was a strong reaction against Americans. One fails to understand how this is possible for the United States had decided to attack Afghanistan not the next day but much later. The story indicates that there was an immediate hate for America and love for Osama. This contradiction is also apparent in the text that follows it, in the next paragraph it is mentioned that the decision of the United States to bomb Afghanistan was in October.

In October, as the U.S. began Afghan-bombing campaign, public opinion in Pakistan turned against America, Sana did too. At spotlights near the Lahore, bazaar, she saw vendors have Bin Laden shirts and posters. She watched protesters spill into the street and though she didn't buy the Bin Laden s paraphernalia or attend the Bin Laden's demonstrations, she found herself associating with him. "This was hypocrisy. Why is an Afghan's life worth any less that American's?" she asks. She felt revengeful at the U.S. air strikes, which left hundreds of Afghans dead and thousands wounded. One of Sana's class mates, Noami Jamal, told how her father, a doctor had tended an Afghan woman in labor who had a piece of shrapnel the size of a spear tip lodged in her from an exploding U.S. bomb. The doctor was able to save the mother but not her newborn baby.

Suddenly, to Sana, America went as being the "next best thing to home" as her mother put it, to being an arrogant bully. Lahore Grammar School affected by the wave of Islamic radicalism. More girls appeared in the class wearing a hijab, the Islamic head scarf and a few even donned the full head to toe burqa. "Imagine, "says Sana, "burqa in this heat." In the commons as far from the teacher's eye, these girls tried to draw other students to their interpretation of the Koran. They stare at girls who wore nail polish. Sana bridled at these wannabe jihadis. "Religion is something personal to me," she said "I don't like it when people

tell me what to do—or what to believe. " Sana's parents are tolerant but pious, and their example kept her grounded and helped resist the radical's taunts at school. "Parents," she says "don't force me to pray but if I let it slide for a week or read the Koran, I feel like I'm losing connection with God."

The proposition is that the U.S. attack on Afghanistan is provoking Muslims especially Muslim girls to "Islamic radicalism." And wearing of "hijab" and burqa are signs of Islamic radicalism. The ridicule of the "burqa" is apparent with Sana's comment, "Imagine, burqa in this heat." The secular discourse of "religion" as personal is apparent through her quote. Her apparent dislike for the ones who wear burqa is also indicated through an indirect quote as "wannabe jihadis." Notice how the intolerance of the girls toward those wearing nail polish is ridiculed and the intolerance of Sana toward girls wearing burqa is justified in the secular discourse: "I don't like it when people tell me what to do—or what to believe."

The statement, "Sana's parents are tolerant but pious . . . " is an interesting example of disclaimer. Stating that although her parents are "pious," they are still "tolerant." Is the author trying to say that pious people are usually not tolerant and here we see an exception? Usually one says he/she is pious and tolerant. May be author is trying to avoid the word religious. Also it is the tolerant behavior of her parents that keeps her "grounded" not the piousness.

Counter Discourse

Sana and her friends remain angry at the U.S. for its treatment of Muslims since 9/11. "Once the shock subsides" Sana says, "a lot of us the Trade Center bombings and makes the U.S. more aware of what is going on in the world, of the frustrations that Muslims feel over Palestine, Kashmir, Kosovo." She is sitting with some of her friends in the quiet of the school library, surrounded by the works of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Thomas Jefferson. "And what's so great about these American values that they're trying to impose on us? "says Amara Maksood, a vivacious prelaw student. "Is it really liberty? I watched Oprah the other day. She was talking to pregnant 13-year-old girls who was unmarried, I'm glad I don't have those complications in my life."

"That's right, "says Noami, who wants to study medicine. "Americans talk about protecting women's rights, but have you seen the George Michael video where he has these women on leashes like dogs? Give me a burqa any day. "

As pointed out by Fairclough, the oppositional discourse is either omitted altogether or backgrounded by positioning them in one paragraph in the middle of the report. In the present instance, the counter discourse is backgrounded by placing it in the middle of the article. The impact of this counter discourse is also mitigated in the following paragraph.

As the students talk, it becomes clear that nearly everyone in the group has a relative or friend who crossed into Afghanistan to

help the Taliban fight the Americans. Their accounts shatter the impression, widely held in the U.S., that it was only ill educated fanatics who propped up the regime. Though many Taliban fighters were like that, among the recruits were also droves of Pakistanis who know America firsthand, wore American jeans, listened to American rap music, and had American friends—but nonetheless saw Afghanistan as Islam's battleground against the dark forces. One student says she knows an M.I.Tgraduate who signed up with the Taliban." Last I heard, he was in the trenches around Mazar-i-Sharif" the student says. "That was many months back. His family is worried sick."

The information that the educated elite all have their relatives "crossed into Afghanistan" and helping the Taliban is an indication of the growing alarming situation in Pakistan. This statement is further qualified by stating that the "impression widely held in the U.S." is very naive for it is just not the "ill-educated" but the "Pakistani's who knew American firsthand" are also the ones who see Afghanistan as Islam's battleground against the "dark force." Notice how the lexical choice of ill-educated is used instead of uneducated or less educated. Hence, the people who are fighting in Afghanistan are "ill educated fanatics," indicating that the fight against the United States in Afghanistan is fought by the misled. The reference to the educated Pakistanis going to Afghanistan is also a warning to the readers that don't trust the Pakistanis even if they are "M.I.T graduates" or wore "American jeans" or listened to "American rap music," and had "American friends." Notice how in the sentence "American" is repeated thrice to give emphasis on the American superior lifestyle. The wearing of jeans and listening to music and having American friends is something to take pride in normal course of life. The proposition of the author is well complemented by the quote in the end where the M.I.T graduate has signed up with the Taliban and "his family is worried sick," indicating that the youth are taking this step without the consent of their parents.

Counter Discourse

In November, Sana was invited back to New York by Seeds of Peace, and reluctantly, she decides to go. "On CNN and Fox News I kept hearing how Islam was a violent religion, but it's not, and I felt I had to explain that," she says. She felt apprehensive landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport. At Customs, which she had always sailed through before, she was herded into a line with people who, she says were a "little darker. They made the men stand with their hands in the air, and they checked every little thing in the bags—and mine too. " White people were being waved through. "I felt bad. Fine let them search, but search everybody, no matter what their skin color is," she says.

This is the second paragraph in the whole article that has counter discourse. This is also placed in the middle of the article to mitigate its effect. It is preceded by the following paragraph.

The dilemma continues:

Sana's group visited the attack site in lower Manhattan, "the remains like withered old flower," she remembers, " It was scary, I kept looking at these giant cranes lifting away the rubble and thinking that there were bodies inside, all mangled up, I couldn't take it any longer, I ran way, crying?" Sana wept again, and couldn't stop her tears, at a religious service where she met Connie Taylor, whose son, an equity trader, had died in the attack. Later, in a long, soulful email, Sana tried to describe her experiences to other Seeds of Peace alumni: "I just hope and pray that in light of what's happening in the world, someday we materialize this dream of peace for the whole world," But the battle lines had been drawn. "I got such angry responses," she says. "An Egyptian boy said Americans deserved it, and an American kid insulted us Muslims."

After Sana saw ground zero with her own eyes, her romantic view of bin Laden began to harden. "At first I couldn't believe that he was behind these gruesome attacks," she says. But the video gloating over the destruction, turned Sana against him, "He thought he was a savior of Muslims, but he was warped and wrong," she says.

Sana still feels trapped between worlds. Her green SEEDS OF PEACE T shirt has faded, but she still wears it stubbornly, during those days in Maine before the fall, where she laughed and swam with Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Christian kids, peace seemed to shimmer just above the lake, she can't see it so easily any more.

She is still a moderate citizen of the world, and she still believes in peace, but as Islamic militancy spreads in Pakistan, she feels she is being forced to take a side. And she doesn't think she can choose America's.

The love-hate relationship of the young Pakistani's for the United States is indicated in the passage which is now tilting toward hate. In the end, an understood presupposition is that in Pakistan, "as Islamic militancy spreads," it is the Islamic militancy which will affect the feeling of a "moderate citizen of the World." Notice the absence of the American militancy in the last concluding paragraph, which is also the cause of her confusion. It is the Islamic militancy which will eventually compel her to be away from her present position as a "moderate citizen of the world." A sign of danger, so be on guards against growing Islamic militancy in Pakistan.


This humble effort was made to further the work of Said (2001) on Orientalism, and to study the historical dynamics of the experiences of the East and the West at certain point in time. The objective was not to play up "the conflict of East and West," and not an affirmation of warring and hopelessly antithetical identities (p. 339). The objective was, as Said's critique intended, to liberate intellectuals from the shackles

of systems such as Orientalism; to produce such work which would assist readers to make use of Said's work and produce new studies of their own that would illuminate the historical experience of Muslims and other in a generous and enabling mode.

The study was conducted to examine how systematically, in a particular historical and socio-political context, images of Pakistani Muslim women were framed as a threat to the American lifestyle. It also examined how her image was used to project the Western ideals as "superior" against the Islamic ones. For the purpose, from every issue of Time from January 1979 till December 2002, articles either having a Pakistani Muslim woman's picture or her reference in the text or the whole article were selected. It was found that in the year 1998 when Pakistan had its first nuclear test, the number of articles with Pakistani Muslim women's reference had increased. And second, just after 9/11, in the year 2002, coverage on them increased. Hence, two articles from these 2 years were selected for the CDA.

CDA illustrates that the discursive formations on Muslim Pakistani women were of derogatory "others." The American lifestyle values were considered as "superior" as against the Pakistani lifestyle. In the selected articles, symbol of veil was used either as a symbol of ridicule or of growing Islamic "fundamentalism." This symbol was also used to frame Islam as "radical" and "extremist" religion. The proposition of the selected articles was that there is an inherent conflict between the United States and Islam. Presupposition has been that America is tolerant in its outlook whereas Islam, due to its militancy, is intolerant. The American education promotes peace, and the "ill educated" talk of America as an enemy. Furthermore, Islam creates confusion for the educated Muslim youth, and there is a danger that they will opt for Islamic militancy instead of American liberal values. Although, there was counter discourse of criticism on American society's discrimination against Muslims and crime against women, this was insignificant and was mitigated by the surrounding paragraphs.

I put forward this proposition that the asymmetrical relations in the discourse, of superior "Us" and inferior "others" as in case of Pakistani women may be "intentional or unintentional," and is creating and fostering divisions. I propose, through this study on Pakistani Muslim women, that deep-rooted myths about Islam, which are responsible for the way Muslims in general and Muslim women in particular, that are framed in the media should be unraveled, this might be an effective way through which one can minimize the confrontation. I understand that an average reader cannot discern the hidden discourses of superior "Us" and inferior "Others" and gradually absorb the hidden values in the text, that is why it becomes the responsibility of the media practitioner to be more vigilant about the socio-cognitive processes that are involved while they are framing others.

An attempt should be made to address the questions—the sources of confrontation and conflict between the West and

Islam; the reasons for the perception of Islam as a threat to the West and of the West as a threat to the Muslim world; and the nature of Islamic fundamentalism. Making Islam opposite of West means that Islam is the opposite of all what the West stands for and vice versa. I argue that we must move beyond a monolithic worldview that sees Muslims and Muslim world as a unity. It should be appreciated in its diversity and complexity. So far "Orientals were rarely seen or looked at; they were seen through, analyzed not as citizens or even people, but as problems to be solved or confined or—as colonial powers openly coveted their territory—taken over" (Said, 2001, p. 207). What is required is to make an effort to understand each other. We need to examine the socio-reli-gious and political circumstances which lead to the negative images of Islam and particularly of Muslim women.

My analysis provides more support for the Orientalism idea that for a new vision to grow, more substantial and systemic change may need to occur at many levels in the Western society. Media analysts need to look in detail, as propounded by van Dijk, how social ideologies are framing the everyday practices of social actors like media personnel and, conversely, how ideologies about Muslim women and Islam are being formed and changing through the everyday interaction and discourse of members in societal contexts of group relations and institutions like the media.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


The author(s) received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article.


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Author Biography

Bushra H. Rahman is an assistant professor in the Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab. Her areas of interest are feminism, Islamic feminism, critical discourse analysis, and media ethics.