Arab Women in Western print press during the Arab Spring: Image and Perception in Germany

Zahra Mustafa-Awad, Monika Kerner-Ludwig and Majdi Sawalha, Jordan & the U.S.A; ID LLCE2016-281;     News coverage of Arabs in Western press has, for decades, involved negative stereotypes and distorted images. In particular, Arab women have been portrayed as victims of their cultures oppressed by their male compatriots. In the last few years, dramatic events took place in the Arab World, especially in the so- called Arab Spring countries. The role of women in these events has been highlighted in Western press in certain occasions and neglected in many others. This research project investigates the impact of Arab women’s representation in selected Western newspapers during the Arab Spring on changing their recurrent negative image. In particular, the study focuses on the semantic analysis of the news reports on Arab women published during the period 2010- 2014 by popular German, American and British newspapers. The concentration is on contribution of lexical choice to changing their recurrent negative stereotypes, on one hand; and to their perception by German university students, on the other. The focus is on the relationship between the lexical items featuring in the news reports and those used by the students to express their attitudes towards them. Preliminary   results show that the general image of Arab women in Western press has shifted during the Arab Spring from that of an oppressed victim to that of a freedom fighter seeking her rights. The results also show that there is a clear relationship between the portrayal of Arab women in Western newspapers and German students' attitudes towards of them. These results have implications for media education.

Key words:  Discourse Analysis, Arab Women, Arab Spring, Western Press, Stereotypes