Moving towards the construction and dissemination of narratives that reflect the reality and diversity of Muslim women in Europe is therefore an urgent task to ensure peaceful coexistence in our societies. The MAGIC project seeks to contribute to this through training, awareness-raising and dissemination actions that will start from a prior analysis of the journalistic discourse on Muslim communities in Europe and Muslim women in particular.
To conduct this analysis, the following methodology is proposed, which adopts Critical Discourse Analysis as an analytical framework for a starting corpus of 6 national newspapers (3 from Belgium and 3 from Spain). Critical Discourse Analysis focuses on discursive analysis and studies, mainly the way in which abuse of power and social inequality are portrayed, reproduced, legitimised and persist in text and speech in social and political contexts (Van-Dijk, 2016), and is already used in studies on the portrayal of Islam and Muslim women in the British press (Alkhammash, 2020).
The methodology focuses on three constant aspects in studies on the portrayal of Muslims in the media:
- Otherness based on the discourse of us vs. them, an us to which only positive characteristics are attributed compared to a them marked by negative attributions, and which only increases ignorance and rejection.
- The consensual cultural image based on Western existentialist and ethnocentric interpretations of Eastern societies.
- The Orientalist discourse continues to legitimise long-implemented hegemonic military policies in Muslim majority countries, or migration security policies (Laura Navarro, 2010).
In the process of developing this methodology, we have done everything possible to leave zero or minimal margins for subjectivity, adjusting the questionnaire that will guide the analysis of the selected newspapers as far as possible, despite acknowledging the difficulty of completely closing the door to some subjective interpretations.
We also want to make it clear that we are aware of all those issues related to the news production process on which the journalist does not decide, such as the selection of the headlines or the images that accompany the piece. We also take into account the difficult conditions in which these professionals carry out their work for different reasons such as job insecurity, lack of time, and so on. These aspects could not be reflected in this methodology for the quantitative analysis of news, but they will be taken into account in qualitative analyses and subsequent reports.
Finally, we want to point out that, although this project aims to contribute with analysis, training, awareness and dissemination actions that will start from a prior analysis of the journalistic discourse on the Muslim communities of Belgium and Spain in general and Muslim women in particular, our work is sensitive to all the other axes of oppression that affect women such as discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, social class, ethnicity, race, and so on. Similarly, it is especially sensitive to the debate about identification with the category of woman by trans and non-binary people, cases that will be taken into special consideration.