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Intercultural Communication as a Clash of Civilizations

Al-Jazeera and Qatar’s Soft Power

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Tal Samuel-Azran

Intercultural Communication as a Clash of Civilizations argues that Al-Jazeera is not an agent of globalization, as is widely argued, but a tool used by the Qatari government to advance its political as well as Islamist goals. This book also maps the Western tendency to reject the network outright despite Al-Jazeera’s billion-dollar investments designed to gain entrance into Western markets; it shows empirically that this rejection is similarly rooted in religious, cultural and national motives. This book asserts that the main outcome of Al-Jazeera’s activities is the promotion of religious and cultural conflicts. The network persistently portrays global events through the prism of conflicting religious and cultural values – propelling a clash of civilizations as per Samuel P. Huntington’s well-known thesis.
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Appendix B: Discourses of the “Global Public Sphere” and Its Critics

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The advent of transnational news networks, and most notably CNN’s cross-border broadcasting of the 1991 Gulf War to a ‘global audience’, has facilitated a debate regarding the influence of transnational connectivity on the national ‘public sphere’ in the receiving countries. Volkmer1 saw that satellite news networks such as CNN, BBC World Service, Euronews, Star News, and Sky news are extending the bounds of the nation-state and bring about the emergence of a transnational, if not a ‘global public sphere’. Volkmer studied 397 news reports from CNN’s program World Report in order to examine whether the ‘usage’ of these reports in different countries serves as evidence to an emergence of a ‘global public sphere’. In her study, Volkmer found that CNN World Report is used in crisis regions (e.g., Cyprus) not only as a global newscast, but also as a communication platform in order to communicate bilaterally with the opposing party. Thus, she argued that international networks influence the political communications of nations worldwide, thus shrinking the national ‘public sphere’ in favour of a global one and at the same time promote conflict resolution amongst rival groups.

Further, Volkmer sees international networks promote a global syncretisation process together with non-government organizations such as World Watch and Greenpeace. To illustrate this argument, consider the various ← 127 | 128 → events that international media brought to the ‘global consciousness’ and that arguably would not have created the same resonance without global media technologies (such as satellite television and the web). These...

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