Framing the female foreign terrorist fighter - A thematic analysis of how headlines in the United Kingdom portray the case of Shamima Begum

Detta är en Magister-uppsats från Malmö universitet/Fakulteten för hälsa och samhälle (HS)

Författare: Suzanne Snowden; [2019]

Nyckelord: Female foreign fighter; Victim; Perpetrator; bias; framing;

Sammanfattning: This qualitative study adopts a criminological perspective to investigate how newspaper headlines surrounding western-raised female Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) are being framed by the British media. This investigation employs a case study approach, to thematically analyse how narratives surrounding a high profile British FTF, Shamima Begum, were framed by headlines of British newspapers once she requested repatriation to the United Kingdom (UK) after four years as a FTF in Syria. When Begum left UK in 2015, aged 15, the media narrative leant towards suggestions of Begum being considered to be a victim. Therefore, this study looks at how the more recent newspaper headlines frame Begums more complex narrative in 2019 when the UK was faced with the conundrum as to how to respond the repatriation request of a British-born female FTF who was also heavily pregnant at the time. Therefore, the focused timeframe of the study is from February 2019, until August 2019. Only the headlines of British newspapers were examined to see how the snapshot of the framed narratives surrounding Begum during this time were presented. The aim was to investigate from a criminological perspective whether the choice of framing was creating a societal perception as to whether the FTF is a perpetrator or victim, according to the societal “trial by media” that newspapers often inspire. Whilst objectivity is always an issue, this study is not designed to make any judgment either way in regards to the Begum case or her agency in her FTF experience but to simply raise awareness as to how narrative around perpetrators or victims can create societal and individual biases and can serve to reduce or increase fear of the “other”. This study demonstrated that the framing chosen by the media increases the level of bias with the focus on the security risk and punishment aspects of the discussion surrounding Begums situation. This is important to be aware of as this in turn significantly contributes to greater racial, ethnic or religious tension within society. Unless we address how perpetrators and victims are discussed, then we increase the risk of greater racial, ethnic or religious tension within society which can create a multitude of other societal and criminological issues.

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