With the constant threat of terror attacks, there has been an alarming rise in anti-Muslim sentiment across the globe, especially in states where Muslims are a diasporic minority. Debates surrounding the threat of terrorism have allowed Western media and political elites to increasingly use the catch-all label of Islam to condemn it. The seemingly systematic demonization of Muslim diasporas as a monolithic group with a shared common history has been referred to with terms like ‘Islamization’, ‘Islam Phobia’, ‘Islamism’, ‘Islam Scepticism’ inter alia (Elchardus & Spruyt 2014: 76). Islamophobia seems to closely relate to the concept of terrorism. With no universally accepted definition in the context of international law (Acharya 2009; Reitan 2010; Hodgson & Tadros 2013), western leaders label international terrorism as a threat to Western democracy and civilization. This label has been consistent before and after the September 9, 2001 attacks (9/11) in the USA (Acharya 2009). The constant media fixation with future threats to human security encourages people to become more inwardlooking and fearful of Islam and Muslims (Mythen & Walklate 2008). In the politics of exclusion since the 1991 Gulf War, provoked further by the 9/11 attacks, Muslim Diasporas have become objects of national gaze (Aly 2007; Saniotis 2004), with various forms of harassment and racist attacks endured by hijab-wearing and Arab-looking Diasporas. Although Muslims only make up 2 per cent of the 23.78 million people in Australia (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2015), the constant association of moderate Muslims with images of fanaticism, terror and violence has placed Australian Muslim Diasporas in a very difficult position indeed. This paper presents an empirical analysis of the Australian media representation of the Muslim Diaspora using the December 2014 Sydney Lindt Café hostage crisis as a case in point. Deploying critical discourse analysis and case study methods, insights into trans-media narratives and aftermaths of the terrifying saga are presented. While the Australian news media collaborated with the right-wing government in the reporting of the Lindt Café hostage crisis, social media offered alternative narratives and mostly posed challenges and raised security concerns for the State. Social media heightened the crisis as sites were variously deployed by the schizophrenic perpetrator, Islamic State (IS) as well as concerned members of the public. The amplified trans-media association of the perpetrator with IS and terrorism, led to the instant birth of Reclaim Australia - a rightwing activist organization, and set the agenda for global media, including the then conservative Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to condemn Islam and Muslims. The national and global impact of the Australian news media coverage of the hostage drama, is best described in terms of an Islam phobic moral panic in this paper.
2016 International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR): Memory, Commemoration and Communication: Looking Back, Looking Forward, Leicester, United Kingdom 27-31 July 2016
2016 International Association for Media and Communication Research Book of Abstracts / pp.4-5