British press representations of Yasser Arafat’s funeral | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1751-9411
  • E-ISSN: 1751-942X



The global symbol of the Palestinian liberation movement for over four decades, the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat from sudden multiple organ failure in a military hospital near Paris on 11 November 2004 generated extensive, and at times conflicting, international media coverage. Arafat’s state funeral began with a French presidential ceremony near Paris, followed by a funeral procession that took place in Cairo on 12 November 2004. Later that day, Arafat’s coffin was returned to Ramallah in the West Bank for interment. This article analyses representations of Arafat’s funeral in ten British national newspapers, all of which were published on 13 November 2004. Located within the wider paradigm of orientalist interpretations of Middle Eastern socio-political events, and taking British press coverage of Arafat’s funeral as an example, this study reveals how the media discourse serves positively to reinforce ‘familiar’ British cultural norms and values, whilst negatively devaluing and demonizing Palestinians and/or Arabs and Muslims. Moreover, it contends that the predominantly unfavourable coverage of Arafat’s funeral in the majority of British newspapers led to no subsequent change in the framing of Palestinians, and was arguably a continuity of the conventionally negative representation of the Palestinian narrative in the British media.


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