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Arab TV-Audiences

Negotiating Religion and Identity

Ehab Galal

Today the relations between Arab audiences and Arab media are characterised by pluralism and fragmentation. More than a thousand Arab satellite TV channels alongside other new media platforms are offering all kinds of programming. Religion has also found a vital place as a topic in mainstream media or in one of the approximately 135 religious satellite channels that broadcast guidance and entertainment with an Islamic frame of reference. How do Arab audiences make use of mediated religion in negotiations of identity and belonging? The empirical based case studies in this interdisciplinary volume explore audience-media relations with a focus on religious identity in different countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, and the United States.
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Cyber religious-national community? The case of Arab community in Germany



Since the 1980s, Arab diasporas in Europe and elsewhere have been connected to the Arab World through Arabic newspapers such as al-Hayat or al-Sharq al-Awasat, allowing for the creation of a kind of primordial virtual community (Kraidy 2008). This tendency was further strengthened during the 1990s and the beginning of this century by the consumption of the Arabic satellite television channels and the Internet among these diasporas in the shadow of the globalization process. The main assumption here is that the process of globalization, which is inevitable and unavoidable one, has become an integral part of our world experience regardless of our location, means (e.g. satellite TV or Internet), or time (Appadurai 1996). A central claim of this approach is that globalization changes the ‘rules of the game’ because of the way it facilitates basic communication and cultural exchange (Fiske 1987).

One important phenomenon of globalization is the cultural isolation of ethno-national minorities living in different countries from the cultural majority of the general population (Aksoy & Robins 1997; Rinnawi 2010). This is evident not only in the case of Arabs in Germany, but also in other places in Europe and elsewhere (Miladi 2006; Harb & Bessiaso 2006; Matar 2006). It is also evident among other minorities living in Germany – particularly among the Turks and Kurds (White 1997; Robins & Aksoy 2000). Continuing the research in this field, this study highlights the effects of the Arab transnational media, particularly satellite television and the Internet, among this...

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