RSIS Seminar by Sarah El Richani, Lecturer, Qatar University
“Messages from the Land of Epic Battles": An Assessment of IS’ Media Strategies
The remarkable military rise of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) in Syria and Iraq in the past year has been coupled with an agile and professional media campaign. IS’ media arsenal has produced content for a variety of audiences employing a number of languages and platforms. In addition to the gruesome infamous beheading videos, which aim to terrify enemies, IS has created output aimed at recruiting and training fighters as well as boosting the morale of its combatants. Meanwhile some of its media output have directly addressed the frames used by the western media in covering IS and attempted to rebut them. Still others have shed light on the tensions between the IS and its fellow Jihadist counterparts.
In addition to its affiliated media units producing sleek media content such as the periodical Dabiq and audio-visual reportages from Kobani to Mosul, the IS has also benefitted from a decentralized force of social media users working from remote locations to indirectly glorify the IS and its ideology. This has helped them circumvent the gatekeepers blocking their official accounts on popular social media platforms.
The lecture shall assess the media strategies of the IS by analyzing a sample of media outputs from the appearance of the so-called Khalifa Ibrahim (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) in Mosul to the latest propaganda videos using a hostage posing as a war correspondent. This talk will present an introduction into the common leitmotifs and frames of Jihadist propaganda. This shall be followed by an empirical analysis of the specific phenomenon that is the IS, arguing that its media campaign forms an integral part of its political and military strategy.
About the Speaker:
Sarah El Richani is a lecturer at Qatar University. She has recently submitted her PhD, which assesses the Lebanese media system from a comparative perspective. The work was completed under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Kai Hafez, University of Erfurt (Germany) and Prof. Jean Seaton, University of Westminster (UK) and courtesy of the German DAAD scholarship. Sarah obtained her MA in Journalism from the University of Westminster courtesy of the Quintin Hogg Scholarship and her BA in English Literature and Philosophy from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. She has worked for two years as MENA Programme Officer for the London-based ARTICLE 19, and continues to carry out consultancies for NGOs working on media issues. Sarah is on Twitter (@srichani) where she writes on Middle-Eastern politics, the media and most else.
Organised by RSIS Events Unit.