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Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1751-9411
  • E-ISSN: 1751-942X



Muslims have been the target of discriminatory attitudes – especially after 9/11 – by certain sectors of society, leading to what is known as ‘Islamophobia’. This exclusionary tendency sees its most common manifestation in hate speech. Hate speech is multifaceted: it can attribute false assumptions to a religion, ascribe despicable facts to a religious community, mock their traditions and practices or, in the harshest cases, employ threat and verbal abuse. In the technological society we live in, the channel most commonly used for the expression of Islamophobia is social media; giving rise to a new variety of Islamophobia: Cyber Islamophobia. The aim of this article is to study how Cyber Islamophobia is articulated discursively by the average netizen (as opposed to the mainstream media), taking as its point of departure the analysis of a corpus of more than 10,000 tweets compiled around the hashtag #jihad. The study shows how discourse on social media amplifies and is more explicit in expressing the stereotypes and negative representations of Muslims present in mainstream media. The concept of ‘jihad’ is largely related with violence and war, and such acts are associated with Islamic religious duty. Narratives ‘otherizing’ Muslims are promoted and Islam is depicted as being ‘at war’ with the West. Furthermore, the analysis suggests that in this corpus, the vast majority of online discourse on jihad is carried out not by Muslims themselves, but by people with a clear Islamophobic/racist bias. In the light of Critical Discourse Analysis and the Corpus Linguistics methodology, we focus on a twofold target: (1) to identify the virtual communities created around certain religious and socio-political values; and (2) to unveil the correlations between them and the evaluation of Muslims and Islam by social media users.


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