Protecting ‘our’ values: A study of the construction of a Muslim ‘other’ and the European ‘self’ in the European Parliament
Abstract: While the EU stipulates their motto to be ‘Unity in diversity’ claiming itself to be enriched by cultural and linguistic diversity, the discourse on Muslims is, however, more often than not, one of Muslims and Europe rather than European Muslims. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate if and how this discourse is constructed and maintained by the Members of the European Parliament while simultaneously investigating how ideological affiliation matters in identity construction. Applying the theory of social constructionism, five debates on the topic of security in the European Parliament were studied using the method of thematic analysis in order to find themes that unite and distinguish the political groups in their construction of the image of 'Europe' and 'Muslims'. Three strategies of othering of Muslims was found to be used by the MEPs: Muslims were constructed as violating universal principles, as inferior and as a threat. Although all three strategies were applied by all groups, there were some significant differences in how they were applied illustrating how ideology matters in the identity construction of a European ‘we’ and a Muslim ‘other’.
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