Media Representation of Muslims in Kyrgyzstan


The aim of our research is to analyze the media representation of Muslims in Kyrgyzstan. We argue that representation of Muslims in the media illustrates how state concepts of security shape public understanding on secure /insecure Muslim groups and practices. In this research we will address what role the media play in the creation and spreading of “myths” about radicalization of Islam in the region.

Based on the analysis of news reports in local media, we will discuss what are the most popular themes, cases in those reports? What symbols, visual materials, images are used to illustrate Muslims? How insecure Muslims, their practices, values, symbols are defined there?

Applying recently developed approaches and theories on security, we will address the following questions: What does security/ insecurity mean in relation to Islam in Kyrgyzstan? How secure/insecure are religious practices, images, values networks, individuals, and knowledge represented in media? How does the understanding of security work on communal and individual levels? How is that understanding reproduced and supported in public debates, and how does it contribute to the spread of Islamophobia in the society?

In part this study looks at how newspapers and journals published by Muslim practitioners and Islamic scholars respond to often intolerant and aggressive security debates. Analyzing reports on online media outlets such as Azattyk, Kaktus Media, Sputnik, Kloop, Akipress, Kabar, and Knews we discuss how ordinary Muslims rethink the “Security” concept and create alternative ideas on secure religious practices, values, symbols and images.