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Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic discourse of the British far-right on Facebook

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thesis
posted on 30.10.2017, 09:25 by Shani Burke
This thesis uses critical discursive psychology to analyse anti-Semitic and Islamophobic discourse on the Facebook pages of two far-right organisations: Britain First and the English Defence League. Using the Charlie Hebdo attack as a time frame, I examine how the far-right manage their identity and maintain rationality online, as well as how users on Facebook respond to the far-right. This thesis demonstrates how Britain First and the English Defence League present themselves as reasonable in their anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic stance following the Charlie Hebdo shooting. Ultimately, I bring together the study of fascist discourse and political discourse on social media using critical discursive psychology, in a novel synthesis. The Charlie Hebdo shooting and the shooting at the kosher supermarket in Paris in January 2015 (as well as other attacks by members of the Islamic State) have led to Muslims being seen as a threat to Britain, and thus Muslims have been exposed to Islamophobic attacks and racial abuse. The current climate is a challenging situation for the far-right, as they are presented with the dilemma of appearing as rational and even mainstream, whilst nevertheless adopting an anti-Islamic stance. The analysis focuses on how Britain First and the English Defence League used the shooting at the Kosher supermarket to align with Jews in order to construct them as under threat from Islam, and promote its anti-Islamic stance. I also analyse visual communication used by Britain First to provide evidence that Britain First supported Jewish communities. Discourse from Facebook users transitioned from supportive towards Jews, to questioning the benefits that Jews brought to Britain, and expressing Holocaust denial. Furthermore, I discuss how other far-right politicians in Europe such as Geert Wilders from the Dutch Party for Freedom, portrayed himself as a reasonable politician in the anti-Islamic stance he has taken in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack. Findings are discussed in light of how the far-right communicate about the Charlie Hebdo shooting whilst maintaining a reasonable stance when projecting anti-Semitic and Islamophobic ideology, and how such discourse can encompass hate speech. I demonstrate how critical discursive psychology can be used to show how various conflicting social identities are constructed and interact with each other online. This thesis shows how the far-right use aligning with Jews as means to present Muslims as problematic, and how such alignment has resulted in the marginalisation of both Jews and Muslims.

Funding

Loughborough University.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Publisher

© Shani Burke

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2017

Notes

A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

Language

en