Nigerian or British: Muslim identity and the framing of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in the British press | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1751-9411
  • E-ISSN: 1751-942X



The story of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s alleged attempt to blow up a US airliner on 25 December 2009 received a lot of attention in the media. As the story developed it appeared that Umar Farouk studied in the United Kingdom and was resident in the country. Although Nigerian by birth, he received his education either in Britain or in British institutions. The nature of his upbringing and education raises questions about his identity. So how was the story framed in the British press? How was the story reported in relation to the representation of Muslims in the British press? This article studied the representation of the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab story in four British newspapers: The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times and The Independent. These newspapers are among the quality press in the United Kingdom, and are read not only in the United Kingdom but across the world. Using the framing theory to provide a critique of the coverage of this story in the British press within the context of representation of identity, the research found that although there are ideological differences between the liberal and the conservative press in Britain, they share similarities when it comes to reporting stories that relate to Muslims. The findings of this research suggested that there are three key frames that shaped the reporting of the story in the British broadsheets. The frames are Muslim identity, Nigerian citizenship and British education. All the newspapers under study paid significant attention to these frames, while being silent on the main causes of radicalization. A common feature from the newspapers under study is the commonality in reporting between the conservative and the liberal press.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Abdulmutallab; British; Muslim identity; newspapers; Nigerian
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