Anti-Islam Propaganda and Its Effects

Fitna, Fear-based Communication and the Moderating Role of Public Debate

in Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
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In 2008, a short Dutch anti-Islam propaganda movie called Fitna caused global public outrage and a brief media storm. Such attention is generally considered undesirable ‘mediahype’ that increases the number of people that will view the film and thus potentially also its societal impact. In this article, however, we present a theoretical model that suggests that extensive media coverage may, in some cases, actually serve to diminish the impact of anti-Islam propaganda. We demonstrate the validity of this model using an experimental study on the effects of the movie Fitna on non-Muslim viewers. The results show that those viewers who had followed this debate closely were less affected by Fitna. These effects were upheld even when we controlled for their political preferences and educational levels; this suggests that exposure to extensive debate about anti-Islam propaganda may serve to ‘inoculate’ non-Muslim viewers against its fear-based appeal.

Anti-Islam Propaganda and Its Effects

Fitna, Fear-based Communication and the Moderating Role of Public Debate

in Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

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