2010 November 18 Thursday
Arab TV Networks Boost Primary Muslim Identity

Why be a Jordanian or Egyptian or Yemeni when you can be a Muslim instead?

COLUMBUS, Ohio Residents of the Middle East who are heavy viewers of Arab television news networks like Al Jazeera are more likely to view their primary identity as that of Muslims, rather than as citizens of their own country, a new study suggests.

Because networks like Al Jazeera are transnational focusing on events of interest across the region rather than those in any one country they may encourage viewers to see themselves in broader terms than simply residents of a particular nation, the researchers said.

So the people of a group of countries that score poorly in the smart fraction sweepstakes are more strongly identifying as Muslims. This seems like bad news for the rest of the world because Islam appears to cultivate a heavy chip-on-the-shoulder attitude. Their resentment at the rest of the world will grow even stronger.

The development of a transnational Muslim identity does not stop at the borders of Muslim nations. Muslims in the West have greater access to Muslim news networks and other Muslim-themed TV shows. Samuel Huntington was right to argue that the divisions would be increasingly between civilizations, not between nations.

The Western nations should cut off all Muslim immigration and provide incentives for them to rejoin cultures more compatible with their religious beliefs.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 November 18 09:26 PM  Civilizations Clash Of


Comments
kkr said at November 18, 2010 11:22 PM:

Actual journal article (paywalled, free if you're at a university or some libraries; can't find a free copy)

Do they say in which countries they found the largest and smallest effect? My guess is Egypt would have the smallest effect. They have the strongest domestic media (especially, soap operas spoken in the local Egyptian dialect), which is probably a sort of "antidote" to transnationalist cable news channels where everyone talks in fus'ha (koine) Arabic. But this is just a theory. The local TV news channels read the news in fus'ha too ... but local talk radio is more colloquial.

Some of the Arab Public Opinion survey data they base it on is available online (Powerpoint presentations done at the Brookings Institute): e.g. here and here.

kkr said at November 18, 2010 11:29 PM:

Oops, I appear to have been wrong. Here is a draft version of the public paper. See page 36 for the by-country stats.

Sgt. Joe Friday said at November 19, 2010 6:09 AM:

"The development of a transnational Muslim identity does not stop at the borders of Muslim nations. Muslims in the West have greater access to Muslim news networks and other Muslim-themed TV shows. Samuel Huntington was right to argue that the divisions would be increasingly between civilizations, not between nations."

Just plug in the word "Hispanic" where you see "Muslim" in the passage above and that describes the problem we are starting to see here in our own country.

sestamibi said at November 19, 2010 8:55 AM:

And not only Muslims and Hispanics, but our own SWPLs, who regard themselves as "citoyens du monde".

kurt9 said at November 19, 2010 11:21 AM:

A common Muslim identity is not going any further than the common Arab nationalist identity that was promulgated by the likes of Nasser during the 50's and 60's. Arabs are the most intransigent, acrimonious people I have ever encountered. Political Islam has no better chance of changing this than Arab nationalism did. I would not worry too much about this.

History 101 said at November 19, 2010 2:46 PM:

"A common Muslim identity is not going any further than the common Arab nationalist identity that was promulgated by the likes of Nasser during the 50's and 60's. Arabs are the most intransigent, acrimonious people I have ever encountered. Political Islam has no better chance of changing this than Arab nationalism did. I would not worry too much about this."

Yeah, islam has never been involved in bad stuff!


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