Framing & islamophobia. Spanish reference press coverage during the Egyptian Revolution (2011-2013)
Framing e islamofobia. La cobertura de la revolución egipcia en la prensa española de referencia (2011-2013)

Alfonso Corral1
Cayetano Fernández Romero1
Carmela García Ortega1

1Universidad San Jorge. Spain.

Introduction: This article evaluates the coverage of the Egyptian Revolution in ABC, El Mundo, El País and La Vanguardia, between January 2011 and December 2013, with the goal to investigate if there was Islamophobia and how it manifested itself. Methods: The study is based on the examination of the units of analysis that present Islamophobia through a system of deductive or predefined frames, and inductive frames, which emerge from reading the texts. Specifically, 428 journalistic pieces are examined through an analysis of quantitative content, and twenty-two editorials based on a qualitative content analysis. Results and conclusions: The results reveal that Islamophobia, when it does appear, does so in a subtle way. Moreover, it concentrates as much on political Islamism as on discourses that subscribe to the incompatibility between Islam and democracy, or the backwardness and homogeneity of the Arab-Islamic world with respect to Western superiority.

Keywords: islamophobia, cultural framing, Egypt, Arab Spring, islamism.

Introducción: Se analiza la cobertura de la revolución egipcia en ABC, El Mundo, El País y La Vanguardia, entre enero de 2011 y diciembre de 2013, con el fin de conocer si hubo islamofobia y cómo se manifestó. Metodología: Se estudian las unidades de análisis que presentan islamofobia con un sistema de frames deductivos, o predefinidos, e inductivos, o que emergen de la lectura de los textos. En concreto, se examinan 428 piezas periodísticas por medio de un análisis de contenido cuantitativo y veintidós editoriales a partir de un análisis de contenido cualitativo. Resultados y conclusiones: Los resultados muestran que la islamofobia suele aparecer de forma sutil, cuando lo hace; y que se concentra tanto en el islamismo político como en unos discursos que suscriben la incompatibilidad entre el islam y la democracia, o el atraso y la homogeneidad del mundo araboislámico respecto a la superioridad occidental.

Palabras clave: islamofobia, framing cultural, Egipto, primavera árabe, islamismo.

1. Introduction. 1.1. Media Islamophobia. 1.2. Cultural perspective of framing. 1.3. Proposal of cultural framing for the study of the Egyptian revolution. 1.4. Goals, research questions and hypotheses. 2. Methods. 2.1. Population and sample. 2.2. Data collection instruments. 2.3. Process. 3. Results. 3.1. Formal aspects of Islamophobic coverage. 3.2. Topics and protagonists of the Islamophobic coverage. 3.3. Islamophobia in graphic coverage. 3.4. Editorial Islamophobia.
4. Discussion and conclusions. 5. References. 5.1. Journalistic sources quoted. 5.2. Related articles.

Alfonso Corral. Universidad San Jorge. España.
Cayetano Fernández Romero. Universidad San Jorge. España.
Carmela García Ortega. Universidad San Jorge. España.

Received: 11/12/2019.
Accepted: 30/04/2020.
Published: 31/07/2020

This work is part of the results of the research group "Migrations, Interculturality, and Human Development" (S05_17D), recognized by the Government of Aragon and financed by the 2014-2020 ERDF Operational Programme for Aragon, "Building Europe from Aragon" (Official Report of Aragon, number 123, of June 27th, 2018), and of the research group “Communication, Journalism, Politics, and Citizenship” (S03_17D), recognized by the Government of Aragon (Official Report of Aragon, number 61, of March 27th, 2018).

How to cite this article / Standard reference
Corral, A., Fernández Romero, C., & García Ortega, C. (2020). Framing & islamophobia. Spanish reference press coverage during the Egyptian Revolution (2011-2013) (2011-2013). Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, (77), 373-392.

Translation by Paula González (Universidad Católica Andrés Bello,Venezuela).

1.1 Introduction

The purpose of this research is to know if there was Islamophobia in the treatment of the Egyptian revolution in the Spanish press (2011-2013) and, if so, how this speech was produced. When we refer to the Egyptian revolution, we speak of an event that has been considered as “the most significant political event that has been known in the Middle East since the Islamic Revolution that led to the fall of the Shah [1] of Iran in 1979” (Rogan, 2012, p. 783). Not only that, since #Egypt was also the most popular Twitter hashtag in 2011 and Time magazine chose the “protester” as Person of the Year, an annual recognition that in this case served to reinforce the relevance of the protagonists of the regional socio-political process which was called the Arab Spring.
In Egypt, the determining date was February 11th, 2011. That day, after two weeks of social protest, the Army removed Hosni Mubarak, its president since 1981, from power. To achieve this, the Egyptians were inspired by the events experienced in Tunisia a month earlier. There, on January 14th, after several days of strikes, protests, and police charges, the Tunisian people ended the twenty-three years presidency of Zine Ben Ali. In this way, the change embraced North African and Middle Eastern societies (Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, or Syria, among other nations), and the international media focus welcomed it with complete expectation. Each country created its own paradigm of social rupture and, as a whole, this prototype of the Arab-Islamic revolution involved reformulating the western media conception of the Islamic and the Arab. Although, at a journalistic level, Egypt surpassed the rest of the States in terms of media interest and attraction, as the world media turned to cover the events that occurred during those days of January and February, just as it happened throughout the following years (Córdoba Hernández, 2015).
From its beginnings, the western media treatment of the Egyptian revolution seemed to blur the classic prejudice of the static-and-incapable-of-progress Muslim world. It was a remarkable fact that the uprisings were framed as movements for freedom and democracy, and not as Islamist revolutions since the procedures were not violent or terrorist. Its principles and values encompassed justice, dignity, freedom, and democracy, so the coverage transcended the dominant paradigms based on the clash of civilizations, orientalism, and stereotyped representation. However, this optimism was short-lived because western media became increasingly critical of Islamic-oriented governments (Rane, Ewart, and Martinkus, 2014).
In historical terms, this Egyptian revolution can be summarized in four milestones characterized by: 1) the social movements of January and February 2011 that led to the fall of Mubarak; 2) the presidential elections of June 2012, which ended a year and a half of transition under the tutelage of the military power; 3) the governmental journey of the Islamist Mohammed Mursi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's( ) [2] political arm that had defeated Ahmed Shafiq, the Army candidate, in the presidential elections; and 4) the coup d'état of July 2013, which removed Mursi from power as a result of a maneuver where the military, led by General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, joined different politicians, associations, unions, and religious institutions, to curb the authoritarianism of the president. Far from its initial plans, the Army had recovered in late 2013 all the springs of power, so Egypt returned to the initial square: a dictatorial regime of a marked military character and quite similar to that of Mubarak.
All these arguments lead us to question how the Spanish press coverage of the Egyptian revolution has been from the perspective of Islamophobia. Among all the media, we have opted for the press as it is the one that most invites to reflection and has the greatest ability to set values and reference models to reproduce the prevailing ideologies in the citizen (Crespo Fernández, 2008). For this reason, in this work, we focus on the analysis of the reference newspapers in Spain and, consequently, on the most prestigious and influential among social, political, and cultural circles: ABC, El Mundo, El País, and La Vanguardia. These newspapers are acquired by audiences with influence capacity and with the power to create opinion (Armañanzas and Díaz Noci, 1996; Reig, 2000).
Furthermore, this study starts from an unencouraging socio-cultural perspective: two years after the beginning of the Arab Spring, the Spaniards self-rated their knowledge level about Arab societies with a score of 4 out of 10 (Real Instituto Elcano, 2013). It is not a trivial matter, because this reality derives, at large, from the topics and approaches exposed by the media.
To this scenario it must be added that 42% of Spaniards have an unfavorable opinion towards Islam; figures that are well above 19% of British or 24% of Germans and French, although below 56% of Poles or 61% of Italians (Stokes, 2015). In short, both situations, that is, that the Spanish citizen is suspended when asked about his/her knowledge level about Arab societies or that he/she maintains a negative opinion about Islam, encourages us to reflect on the role that journalism plays not only in its informative function but also in its socializing and pedagogical nature of the Arab-Islamic. But first, we need to know what is meant by Islamophobia.

[1] Since ancient times, Shah is the title given to the monarchs of Iran (formerly Persia).

[2] Socio-political organization of an Islamic nature and Sunni tradition founded in 1928 by the Egyptian Hassan al Banna. One of its purposes is the Islamization of society, an aim that it pursues politically and through the deployment of solidarity, beneficence, and charity networks that fill the gaps of the Egyptian welfare state.

1.1. Media Islamophobia

Although it is difficult to locate the origin of the term Islamophobia, it is usually set at the beginning of the 20th century when the relationship between the French colonial authorities and the Muslims began to be studied, especially in West Africa. However, its rise and rooting are justified either as a consequence of migratory movements that increased the Muslim presence in Europe since the second half of the 20th century or as a result of the attacks of September 11th, 2001 (Segura, 2004; Bravo López, 2009). In any case, the academic debate on Islamophobia offers two possibilities: either it is a new type of religious intolerance or, on the contrary, it is a form of cultural racism (Bravo López, 2009). Therefore, it is difficult to sketch a single integral approach for its precise conceptualization, since it lacks a definition, implementation, and a coherent and consistent understanding (Martín Muñoz and Grosfoguel, 2012).
Despite this, one of the most repeated approaches conceives Islamophobia from the interpretation of Islam as a monolithic block, static and opposed to change; perceived as separate and other; without common values with other cultures; considered inferior to the West; esteemed as barbaric, irrational, primitive, and sexist; seen as violent, aggressive, dangerous, supportive of terrorism, and immersed in a clash of civilizations (Runnymede Trust, 1997). Another classic definition understands this term as fear or prejudices towards Islam, Muslims, and everything related to them, which constitutes a violation of human rights and a threat to social cohesion, whether in the form of daily racism and discrimination demonstrations or in others more violent (Ramberg, 2004). Therefore, the common denominator of all interpretations is the hostile attitude towards Islam and everything identified as Islamic, based on the idea that Islam is an enemy that threatens Western well-being and survival, a threat to be defended against (Bravo López, 2012).
Islamophobia is also considered as the rejection of a population group due to characteristics related to a real or supposed belonging to Islam. This reality -which often appears accompanied by “Arabophobia”- comes from a “false” idea whereby “the individual and collective behavior of Muslims is determined, above all, by religion”. All this, shapes "the construction of the Muslim problem" for European societies from an Islam turned into “a kind of existential anguish and a collective obsession” that is based on “the myth of Islamization”: a myth that reaffirms that ‘white’ Europe is invaded, crumbling, surrounded, and even soon to be replaced” (Khader, 2016, p. 17).  
Afterward, already on the media spectrum, “journalistic Islamophobia” is established, that is, the fear of Islam that journalists transmit to western public opinion from the spread of three erroneous ideas: 1) not intellectually distinguish between radical and moderate Islamists, nor between Islam as a religion and Islam as a source of political inspiration;  2) to consolidate the thesis that Islam seeks to end Western civilization; and 3) the incompatibility between Islam and democracy to not integrate Islamist movements in the national and international political scene (Majdoubi, 2012, p. 213). There may even be the existence of a “new Islamophobia” or an “illustrated Islamophobia” because there are fewer and fewer explicit verbal stereotypes, although stereotyped visions have reappeared through the definition of agendas, thematic orientation, and the contextualization of the images (Hafez, 2016, p. 24). In this sense, to analyze if there was Islamophobia in the coverage, we will rely on the postulates of the framing theory.

1.2. Cultural perspective of framing

One of the most repeated definitions of framing reflects the journalist's inclination for some aspects of perceived reality to make them more prominent in the communicative text (Entman, 1993). Previously, it was Goffman (1974) who used the term frame to explain the way events are organized both in our minds and in society. In other words, framing is considered a mere selection of reality that ends up being the most notable for the audience (Sádaba, 2008) and the frames are the mental presuppositions that order the construction and understanding of social reality (Brosius and Eps, 1995). In this way, the media coverage of an event can always be framed from different angles, which implies that the receiver interprets that matter in a particular way (Shah, Kwak, Schmierbach, and Zubric, 2004).
At an academic level, the framing theory has been used to analyze the treatment that the media carry out on topics as diverse as political corruption, the image of women, the anti-nuclear movement, immigration, electoral processes, political speeches, or social conflicts (Sádaba, 2001; López Rabadán, 2010; Saperas and Carrasco-Campos, 2015). Given this panorama, the culturalist perspective of framing is consolidating itself as a creative line in the study of this theory that, concerning the Arab-Islamic world, can be explained from three paradigms: the cognitive, the critical-ideological, and the constructionist (Miceviciute, 2013). 
In the first place, following the approaches of the cognitive paradigm, the perception of the news –and of reality– when it affects novel topics is established based on experience: knowledge, symbols, memories, etc. (Sádaba, 2008). Hence, in cases with little drama people prefer to keep their old schemes, and journalists, if they do not want to lose their audience, must count on it (Miceviciute, 2013).
Secondly, regarding the critical-ideological paradigm of framing, it is necessary to know the context in which the dominant frames emerge and how they are configured in the texts. In this way, the ideas and meanings that journalism provides have a socio-cultural origin, continually evolve, and do not come directly from the elites or the media itself (Marín Albaladejo and Zamora Medina, 2014). For this reason, in the Egyptian case, it is convenient to question where the frames come from: history, society, politics, religion, culture, etc.
Finally, the constructionist perspective conceives framing as a process of recreation of social reality and could well affect the Arab-Islamic world due to the existence of journalistic products that define issues -with their causes, implications, and solutions- based on symbolic resources with strong roots in a society’s culture -myths, stereotypes, values, archetypes, or narrative constructions-, that have an intention and a meaning. In this way, cultural symbols and conventions (metaphors, examples, catchphrases, labels...) originate "the connection between the manifest content and the latent content that make up the central organizing idea or interpretive package (frame) transmitted by the media" (Marín Albaladejo and Zamora Medina, 2014, p. 26). However, this issue had already been addressed by Entman (1993), since culture is one of the four elements in which frames can be located, along with emitter, receiver, and text.
However, for the perfect understanding of the message, the connection between socio-cultural symbol systems and the cognition process of individuals is essential. Now, both the media and individuals can accept or reject the frames proposed by elites and journalists (Marín Albaladejo and Zamora Medina, 2014). For example, as much as a newspaper insists that the victory of political Islamism is negative for the development of the revolution, it is the reader who has the power to determine whether that victory is positive or negative for the political process.
In any case, culture must be a capital element for all consideration of framing, and, according to Van Gorp (2007), when locating frames in culture, the framing process that is often conceptualized as a matter of individual cognition is rather run by culture in general. Thus, the frames that respond to cultural phenomena influence the journalist's and audience's schemes, while these frames are part of the collective memory that both share and serve to know the relationships between them. Furthermore, these cultural resonances are often perceived as familiar, which causes the frames they refer to, to go unnoticed: if you want to find them, you have to examine the stereotypes, values, myths, or historical references that accompany the messages (Van Gorp, 2007; Van Gorp, 2010).
Regarding Islamophobia, it can be more difficult to identify it because its manifestation varies from open and declared to hidden or latent (Rane, Ewart and Martinkus, 2014). In sum, the interest of the culturalist perspective of framing lies in the fact that it overcomes the limitations of the general frames to achieve more particular interpretations while correcting the precariousness of the specific ones to establish the topics and issues (Marín Albaladejo and Zamora Medina, 2014). At this point, it is time to present our theoretical proposal of cultural frames for the study of events of an Arab-Islamic nature.

1.3. Proposal of cultural framing for the study of the Egyptian revolution

One of the main criticisms that accompany the framing theory is the lack of homogeneity to identify the frames in the media coverage (Vicente Mariño and López Rabadán, 2009). The existence of various typologies and methods to find them also affects studies that address Arabo-Islamic topics: if a first group of works is based on established deductive procedures (d'Haenens and Bink, 2006; López, Otero, Pardo, and Vicente, 2010; Fornaciari, 2011; Golan, 2013; Corral-García and Fernández Romero, 2015), such as that of the five general frames of Semetko and Valkenburg (2000); other investigations propose their own paradigm (Durán, 2019; Calvo Barbero and Sánchez-García, 2018). In this second group, we must place the study by Kumar (2010), where five frames were set to analyze the treatment of Muslims, Arabs, and the Islamic world after the attacks of September 11th: 1) Islam is a monolithic religion; 2) Islam is a sexist religion; 3) the Muslim mind is incapable of science and reason; 4) Islam is intrinsically violent; and 5) The West spreads democracy, while Islam breeds terrorism.
Although both options seem interesting to us, we have decided to create a new model to explore the cultural frames of the Arabo-Islamic from a double deductive (quantitative) and inductive (qualitative) procedure. For the first case, integrated into the quantitative content analysis that we will detail later, two categories have been developed: the tolerant or Islamophilic frame and the Islamophobic frame. The first of them includes the mentions, whether explicit or implicit, based on respectful, cordial, integrating, conciliatory, universal, or human discourses, whose purpose is understanding, friendship, alliance, equality, or good coexistence. On the other hand, by Islamophobic frame, we understand mentions contingent on, evident or latent, discourse or sentiment based on generalizations, stereotypes, prejudices, or fears towards the Arab, Islam, Muslims, and everything related to them that constitutes a violation of human rights and a threat to social cohesion because they reaffirm the negative views of the Runnymede Trust report (1997).
In the case of the second aspect, the inductive one, the news frames resulting from the coverage of the Egyptian revolution arise from the execution of a qualitative content analysis that, in turn, completes the quantitative deductions previously made. It should not be forgotten, in this sense, that framing theory also allows more theoretical approaches or sheltered in qualitative methodologies (Ardèvol-Abreu, 2015).
According to Ibrahim (2010), qualitative approaches provide space for a more exhaustive analysis of the meaning of the texts and can facilitate a more nuanced understanding of why a particular story is correct or not, depending on the aspects that it highlights and it dulls. This, also, makes it possible to improve the usual procedure used to study biases in media coverage which is based on simplifying the content of journalistic pieces in three categories: positive, negative, and neutral. In this way, thanks to qualitative introspection, confidence in the framing model as a theoretical foundation is increased.  

1.4. Goals, research questions, and hypotheses

The goals we pursue with this study on the presence of Islamophobia in the coverage of the revolution are the following:

In light of these goals, we aim to answer these research questions:

Finally, regarding the treatment of the Egyptian revolution, we start from these three hypotheses:

2. Methods

The research technique used to carry out this study has been content analysis in its quantitative and qualitative aspects. Besides, this is how methodological triangulation is achieved because if quantitative techniques describe and interpret reality through measurement, qualitative techniques bring closer the images that one has of an object, that is, they capture meanings and nuances, show arguments, purposes, and connotations, they distinguish coverage, and allow to maintain the nature of the texts and their discursive meaning, avoiding their reduction to numbers (Sánchez Aranda, 2005; Zugasti, 2007; Román, García, and Álvarez, 2011).

2.1. Population and sample

In this research, we have followed a multistage sampling process (Krippendorff, 1990).  Thus, in the first place, the time interval of study is limited to the period between January 1st, 2011 and December 31st, 2013: if the first revolutionary attempts took place in January 2011, Egypt returned to its starting point in December 2013, when political power was again subordinated to military power. In this way, socio-political events of various nature and high news-interest have been analyzed: protests, conflicts, trials, elections, constitutional processes, referendums, coups d'état... Specifically, thanks to the revision of the chronologies created by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (2017), we have recorded a set of forty-eight moments where we group the main media events of the Egyptian revolution. 
Secondly, it has already been mentioned that in this work the four reference newspapers in Spain are studied. Furthermore, if we look at the data of daily readers offered by the General Media Study regarding the third mobile year of 2017 (from February to November 2017), the figures confirm this relevance (AIMC, 2017). Thus, El País is the national and general information newspaper with the highest number of readers per day (1,080,000), followed by El Mundo (662,000), and ABC (418,000). For its part, La Vanguardia is the leader of regional newspapers with a total of 585,000 readers per day. If we compare these data with the time interval analyzed in this work, we corroborate that these newspapers held the same preeminence, with even more readers (AIMC, 2012).
Regarding the body of the study, we consider as an analysis unit any information about Egypt published in the aforementioned time intervals and newspapers that, likewise, fulfilled the following requirements: 1) it had a headline and its own entity; 2) to present an explicit or indirect mention of Egypt –or the socio-political process in which it was immersed–; 3) that said reference was not a mere comment; 4) that it appeared in the first reading level elements (titles, subtitles, pre-titles, headlines, summaries, highlights, and captions), the lead, or the last paragraph; and 5) that it reproduced our definition of an Islamophobic frame.
At this point, we must point out that 3,045 journalistic pieces related to the object of study (the Egyptian revolution) were recorded. Therefore, this figure is equivalent to the population of our research. However, it should be pointed out that not all of them incorporated Islamophobia patterns, so the final sample was reduced to 428 analysis units that did reproduce our definition of Islamophobic frame.

2.2. Data collection instruments

The journalistic materials used in this work were extracted in two ways. On the one hand, in the cases of ABC and La Vanguardia, their free and open access virtual archives were used. On the other, regarding El Mundo and El País, their printed editions had to be probed until the analysis units were obtained, which were later analyzed.

2. 3. Process

Taking into account all the requirements described so far, the quantitative content analysis was based on 428 units of analysis, to which a code composed of formal and content categories was applied: if the first ones respond to more general characteristics such as the date, the newspaper, or the authorship, the latter deal with more specific aspects of the field of study that do not have to find correspondence in other research, that is, issues such as the topics, the protagonists of the texts, or various motives of the photographs, for example. In this sense, the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) computer software has been used for the statistical treatment of the obtained data. 
Finally, to enrich the quantitative results, a qualitative content analysis was carried out on the twenty-two editorials. The reason why we focus only on this journalistic genre is that the editorial draws the ideological and journalistic profile of the media (Canel, 1999), although the press also provides opinion and prints the framing through other types of texts (Armañanzas and Díaz Noci, 1996). On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that, since it is linked to latent discourse, qualitative content analysis requires greater contextualization, so it is preferable to work with smaller samples (Schreier, 2012). All in all, this itinerary offers us the possibility of learning about the Islamophobic speeches that appeared in the texts that set the editorial mood of a newspaper.
Furthermore, as this phase of the study aims to show some examples of media Islamophobia from the perspective of editorial coverage, here we have worked with a system of open categories: a skeleton that responds to a prolonged trial and error process for which some provisional categories are used that, later, are conserved, suppressed, or refined based on their ability to grasp the hidden meaning of the texts (Ruiz Olabuénaga, 2012). Next, we present the main results of our research.

3. Results

When delving into the 428 analysis units in which there is an Islamophobic treatment, one of the first steps is to describe how this discourse has appeared. Thus, in the coverage of the Egyptian revolution, the subtle (76%) prevail over the manifest (24%), that is, only one in four times Islamophobia occurs continuously or even registered among the elements of the title or first reading level. By headings, ABC is the newspaper that provides the most cases of Islamophobia (34.3%), followed by El Mundo (25.9%), La Vanguardia (23.4%), and El País (16.4%). This last newspaper stands out because it rarely manifestly prints Islamophobia (5.7%), when the rest of the newspapers present more similar data: La Vanguardia (30%), ABC (29.3%), and El Mundo (22.5 %).  
On the other hand, this Islamophobic discourse is offered together with the tolerant or Islamophilic frame in 17.1% of cases, which can lead to confusion. However, certifying this second cultural frame is equally difficult, since the tenuous samples (82%) far exceed the obvious ones (18%). Here, El País is the one that most often incorporates it into its coverage accompanying the Islamophobe, since in 20% of the analysis units both frames are offered. In this sense, except for El Mundo (12.6%), the other two headings move in figures similar to those of El País: La Vanguardia (19%) and ABC (17.7%). On the contrary, one of the peculiarities in the coverage of each newspaper is how this Islamophilic frame is registered, because here there is a certain disparity: if El País and ABC sometimes ostensibly seek it (28.6% and 23.1%, respectively), in La Vanguardia and El Mundo it is rarer to find it in an evident way (10.5% and 7.1%, respectively). In any case, in the four newspapers, the subtle or the latent prevails.
However, it is necessary to remember that until reaching these results, a large number of analysis units that did not contain Islamophobia had to be discarded. Specifically, 2,617 more newspaper articles on the various Egyptian events that occurred in the study period were reviewed, which were ultimately left aside for not incorporating our definition of Islamophobic frame. In this way, although Islamophobia was present, we must recognize that it was only offered in 14% of the total registered cases. Once Islamophobia in the coverage of the Egyptian revolution has been presented, we continue with the formal aspects of the treatment of the Spanish press. 

3.1. Formal aspects of Islamophobic coverage

Due to the transnational nature of the Egyptian revolution, the International and Opinion sections collect more Islamophobic manifestations among the 428 analysis units (60.7% and 26.9%, respectively). This does not prevent it from also being shown in various supplements (3.5%), on the cover (1.6%), and the back cover (1.4%). Surely, it is more illustrative to attend to authorship and journalistic genres. Thus, regarding the authors, columnists, and collaborators, they are the ones that most reproduce Islamophobia (35%).  Below are the texts that were written by special envoys (22.7%) and by the editors or members of the editorial team (22.4%). Besides, the Islamophobic frame is also subscribed by the correspondents (8.4%), although here we must clarify that El País never defines the role of the correspondent and rarely that of the special envoy. To a lesser extent, these speeches are provided by readers (3%) and agencies (2.3%), but rarely by humorists (0.7%).
Regarding journalistic genres, Islamophobia predominates in columns or opinion articles (36.2%) and chronicles (28.7%). The rest of the genres do not offer as much presence: reports (13.8%), editorials (5.1%), news (4.2%), interviews (3.7%), photo news (3.5%), letters of readers (3%), or vignettes of graphic humor (0.7%). On the other hand, most of the analysis units that show Islamophobic discourses are signed in Egypt (64.8%) or Spain (10.3%). Therefore, those made in Israel, other European nations, or other countries of the Arab League do not obtain as much frequency (5.6%, 5.2%, and 4.7%, respectively).
As for the main sources, these are usually official in the majority of cases (32.3%), that is, derived from the public administration and the three branches of the State. More significant is that the Islamophobic frame appears accompanied by scientific sources (16.7%) because this includes academics, observers, or members of think tanks. Behind them emerge the testimonies of activists (12.5%), civilians (9.9%), and the religious community of the Muslim Brotherhood (9.1%). At a certain distance are the rest of the political (6.5%), journalistic (6.5%), or religious (4.9%) sources.
Temporarily, Islamophobia appears in the four phases of the Egyptian revolution, although with some differences: in the first phase, which addresses the initial revolts and the fall of Mubarak, 27.1% of the Islamophobic samples are offered; the second stage, that of the transition of the military between February 2011 and June 2012, is the least prolific (16.6%); in the Mursi government journey there is one in four cases of Islamophobia (25%); finally, in the last phase, which began with the coup d'état in July 2013, the majority of the Islamophobic analysis units (31.3%) concur. From this moment on, due to its relevance to the research, the data we provide is presented compared between the four newspapers.

3.2. Topics and protagonists of the Islamophobic coverage

When delving into the topics in which Islamophobia appears (Table 1), we immediately observe a constant: ABC, El País, and La Vanguardia expose it primarily when dealing with political Islamism, with percentages close to 20%, which does not occur in the case of El Mundo (10.8%). Islamophobia also accompanies the Arab Spring, but here La Vanguardia (8%) does not follow the line of the other headlines: ABC (17%), El Mundo (15.3%), and El País (14.3%). On the contrary, Islamophobia predominates in La Vanguardia along with issues of foreign policy and international relations (22%) when in ABC it only does so in 6.1% of cases. In other topics, the Islamophobic speeches excel in conflict for El Mundo (17.1%) or in religious affairs for ABC (13.6%).

Table 1. Topic according to the newspaper (in percentage).

Source: self-made

As for the actors who star in the analysis units that represent the Islamophobic frame, according to Table 2, the Muslim Brotherhood stands out (25.5%). Of course, with differences between the four newspapers: La Vanguardia emerges noticeably with 34%, followed by El País (27.1%), El Mundo (22.5%), and ABC (21.1%). Far are the Army (9.1%), Egyptian society (8.6%), or the Coptic Church [3] (8.4%).

[3] The Copts are the Christians of Egypt.

Table 2. Protagonist according to the newspaper (in percentage).

Source: self-made.

By headlines, ABC's Islamophobia stands out around Egyptian society (14.3%), the Copts (11.6%), and President Mursi (12.2%). For its part, even though the Muslim Brotherhood predominates in El Mundo (22.5%), this newspaper is the one that offers the most distributed protagonism among the rest of the actors. So much so that the value Others, which groups a good number of characters or institutions such as, for example, Mariano Rajoy, the Catholic Church, or other Egyptian actors, reaches almost 20%. On the other hand, in El País other figures such as the Army (11.4%), activists, opponents, or protesters (8.6%), and the European Union (5.7%) stand out. Finally, La Vanguardia is Islamophobic when international actors such as Barack Obama and the United States (9%), or Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel (6%) star in the journalistic pieces.

3.3. Islamophobia in graphic coverage

Regarding the 188 analysis units that offer at least one photograph, when looking at Table 3, the main themes of the images that accompany the Islamophobic journalistic pieces are three: conflict or war (29.8%), those that gather protests (25.5%), and the political or electoral (23.9%). Far are other motives such as religious (11.7%), cultural (2.1%), or tourist (1.1%). By newspapers, if there is a certain homogeneity in the conflictive issues, the same does not happen with the protests, where El País (42.5%) stands out over El Mundo (16.7%). On the other hand, El País offers lower data on political or electoral issues (17.5%), when the rest of the newspapers present data close to 25%. Religious images are more prominent in El Mundo (16.7%), ABC (13.2%), and La Vanguardia (11.4%), which hardly occurs in El País (2.5%).

Table 3. Main photography themes according to the newspaper (in percentage).

Source: self-made.

Finally, following our object of study, it is interesting to study whether or not the main photography reflects stereotypes, that is, simplified and recurring views that generalize something in specific. This only occurs in 6.9% of cases, with El País being the headline that proposes the most stereotypes (10%), followed by La Vanguardia (8.6%), ABC (7.5%), and El Mundo (3,3%). At this point, we continue with the results of the editorial coverage analysis.

3.4. Editorial Islamophobia

The qualitative content analysis carried out only on the twenty-two Islamophobic editorials of the Egyptian revolution (which represent 5.1% of the total of 428 analysis units), has allowed us to identify up to five specific frames: 1) linguistic Islamophobia; 2) the incompatibility between Islam and democracy; 3) the homogeneity of the Arab world; 4) Arabo-Islamic laggard and Western superiority, and 5) the Islamist danger. To account for these five frames, we present below some excerpts from the editorials that incorporate these Islamophobic speeches and whose full reference is found in the last section of this work, just after the references.
As we say, the first of these frames we have called linguistic Islamophobia and affects the use of nouns, adjectives, verbs, or expressions that create pernicious associations towards the Arabo-Islamic. This is the case when terms such as “fear” (El Mundo, 2011a, p. 3), “fright” (El País, 2011a, p. 30), “submit” (ABC, 2012c, p. 4), “ghost” or “horror” (ABC, 2012a, p. 4), among others, are used. From punctuation to italics, from the selection of the verb or adjective to the headline, any detail is decisive to emphasize euphoria, doubts, or pessimism in the discourse. Without a doubt, in the following frames, we will see new examples of this type of linguistic Islamophobia.
On the other hand, under the socio-political nature of the Egyptian revolution, the frame of the incompatibility between Islam and democracy gained predominance with the evolution of events. In one of its editorials, ABC stated that the democratic aspirations of “a part of Arab societies” collided with a “wall that separates the Islamic contours of their deepest identity” (2011d, p. 4). In another, it affirmed that “the combination of Islam and democracy has always been very complicated, if not impossible” (2013, p. 4). For its part, El Mundo interpreted that the basis of the incompatibility was found in the idiosyncrasy of the Egyptians, because “democracy is not only about being able to elect the rulers, but it is also a culture that needs roots and conditions that do not occur in the ancient land of the pharaohs” (2013, p. 3). In turn, El País stated that the Arab region was learning “with its own pain that building a system of liberties, however modest, is much more complex than holding elections or calling crowds on the streets” (2013, p. 38). In these excerpts, the scant credit that Spanish newspapers gave to the Arab-Islamic democracies, in general, and to the Egyptian, in particular, is perfectly detailed. 
Third, the frame of homogeneity in the Arab world has been reproduced in the editorial coverage with the use of generalizations such as “the constant in all Arab countries” (ABC, 2012a, p. 4), “the supposed Arab propensity to tyranny” (El País, 2011b, p. 26), or “the always flammable Middle East” (La Vanguardia, 2012, p. 18). In “all” and “always” we find two language-modifying words that hinder the knowledge of reality: the heterogeneity of the Arab countries and the cultural variety of the Middle East. Furthermore, in the adjective “flammable” we see another example of linguistic Islamophobia.
In the editorials of the Egyptian revolution, the Arab-Islamic laggard and Western superiority have also been repeated, two classic presuppositions of the clash of civilizations, which are exemplified by expressions such as “outdated world” (El País, 2011b, p. 26), “semi-feudal society” (El País, 2011c, p. 30) or “the barbarism of medievalist fundamentalism” (ABC, 2012c, p. 4). However, the best example of this frame is found in this statement: “The developed world must get involved to seek a democratic solution in Egypt” (El Mundo, 2011b, p. 3). This thesis unites the Arab-Islamic laggard -more than palpable in contrast to the “developed world”- and the Western superiority to which the newspapers appealed when they encouraged the western powers to commit themselves to the future of Egypt.
Finally, the frame of the Islamist danger, almost always represented in the Muslim Brotherhood, is well reflected in arguments such as “toxic organizations” (ABC, 2011b, p. 4), "fanatic opportunists who only seek chaos" (El Mundo, 2012, p. 3), or “political forces […] as much or more detrimental to freedom” (ABC, 2011c, p. 4). Despite its electoral legitimacy, it was not well received by the Spanish press that an Islamist group like the Brotherhood reached the Egyptian Government because, according to La Vanguardia, it was "an order imbued with its religious principles" (2012, p. 18) and, in ABC's words, it was commanded by a president “who strongly believes in the preeminence of Islamic laws” (2012b, p. 4). In fact, the Islamist forces defend “a society organized according to premodern traditions and more or less medieval religious criteria” (ABC, 2011e, p. 4).

4. Discussion and conclusions

This research focused on the Islamophobic coverage of the Egyptian revolution has shown that the conjunction of deductive (quantitative) and inductive (qualitative) frames can be used in those studies that concern topics or events related to the Arab-Islamic world. Furthermore, in our case, this double procedure has helped deepen the development of the culturalist perspective of framing, since it has served both to identify frames (discourses, stereotypes, generalizations ...), and to recognize that the origin of these frames affects cultural and religious criteria rather than historical or political motives. Thus, an aspect that we have already introduced when describing the critical and ideological paradigm of cultural framing is answered.
If we return to the initial hypotheses, in the first place, this work has shown that deciphering media Islamophobia is a complex task. As we have seen, during the Egyptian revolution it was more frequently found in a subtle or latent way than explicitly. Furthermore, the Islamophobic also appears accompanied by Islamophilia on some occasions Therefore, we can conclude that several of the approaches of “illustrated Islamophobia” have been met: although in the qualitative content analysis we have verified that linguistic expressions of an intolerant character continue to appear, this discourse is better based on issues such as topics or protagonists, and not so much on the selection of images.
Thus, in the quantitative results, we have observed that both political Islamism (main topic) and the Muslim Brotherhood (protagonists) have been the focus of Islamophobia. Now, this reality contrasts with evidence of the idiosyncrasy of the Egyptian process: in the first year and a half of the revolution, neither political Islamism nor the Islamic religion was particularly determining for the course of events. Only as the Muslim Brotherhood began to achieve significant triumphs at the polls, did the journalistic treatment become fraught with fear and prejudice. Hence, its leader and ultimately the country's president, Mohammed Mursi, became the scapegoat for Spanish newspapers. In short, we believe that in many cases a coverage has been produced where the religious aspect has acquired too much relevance in the narrated events when this phenomenon defines, above all, a historical passage of a marked socio-political character.
On the other hand, in the editorials, we have shown that the postulates of the opposition between Islam and democracy, fear of Islamism, the clash of civilizations, Western supremacy, or the laggard and uniformity of the Arab-Islamic world are reinforced. These discourses have been created through generalizations, prejudices, and the use of terms or expressions that can generate associations in the minds of the readers. Consciously or not, this type of treatment creates distortions or changes in perception in the receiver of the information. Besides, we are talking about a scenario that could seriously affect the evolution of public opinion that, by itself, does not offer much sympathy for the Arabo-Islamic.  
From the prism of each newspaper, and within the homogeneity of the results, ABC was the headline that most reproduced the Islamophobic frame throughout these three years. If we compare it with the other newspapers, it did it twice as often as El País, while La Vanguardia and El Mundo were in an intermediate situation. In this sense, hand in hand with the quantitative and qualitative analyzes, we have been able to specify that each newspaper showed an inclination for specific topics, protagonists, or frames. In other words, Islamophobia has not always followed the same discursive pattern in all four newspapers.
In any case, we cannot conclude that the Spanish press made an Islamophobic coverage of the Egyptian revolution because we must remember that the Islamophobic frame was only present in 14% of the analysis units published on this issue. Therefore, this study should not be understood as a criticism of the work of Spanish newspapers, but as a basis for reflection and rethinking of some practices that would improve the information quality and the representation of a culture and religion: the Arabs and Islam.
For the future, new studies that combine framing and Islamophobia are pending to analyze more sensitive issues for the current Spanish reality regarding the Arab-Islamic world such as, for example, the terrorist attacks, immigration, or the refugee crisis. The examination of other communication products such as cinema, series, or television news, as well as the review of the reception process of discourses by readers or audiences, should not be neglected.


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5.1. Journalistic sources

  1. ABC (2011a). Egipto traza un futuro incierto, en ABC, 30 de enero, p. 4.
  2. ABC (2011b). La era Mubarak ha terminado, en ABC, 2 de febrero, p. 4.
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  11. El Mundo (2011b). Occidente debe apoyar una salida democrática en Egipto, en El Mundo, 30 de enero, p. 3.
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5.2. Related articles

  1. Al Maskati, N. A. (2012). Newspaper coverage of the 2011 protests in Egypt. International Communication Gazette, 74(4), 342-366.
  2. Corral-García, A. y Fernández Romero, C. (2015). Framing y mundo árabe: la cobertura de la prensa española en torno a la revolución tunecina. Estudios sobre el Mensaje Periodístico, 21(2), 793-811.
  3. Elena, M. (2015). El posicionamiento de medios internacionales ante los movimientos sociales: CNN y Al-Jazeera English en la caída de Morsi. Communication & Society, 29(3), 119-131.
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  6. Saaed, A. (2007). Media, Racism and Islamophobia: The Representation of Islam and Muslims in the Media. Sociology Compass, (1), 443-462.


Alfonso Corral
Alfonso Corral is a Doctor in Communication from the San Jorge University (extraordinary prize) and a teacher attached to the Institute of Humanism and Society of the San Jorge University. He is also a researcher of the group Migraciones, Interculturalidad y Desarrollo Humano, recognized and funded by the Government of Aragon. His line of study is focused on the communication and the Arab-Islamic world binomial, especially media Islamophobia, although he also analyzes topics such as the integration of immigrants or journalistic discourse on immigration. He has published articles on Islamophobia, the Arab revolutions, migrations, framing, network society, and the media in national and international scientific journals with an impact factor.He has also participated in national and international conferences on communication, digital communication, and the Arab-Islamic world. He has also been the beneficiary of grants in competitions for international stays in prestigious centers such as the Institute for Media Studies of the KU Leuven (Belgium).
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Cayetano Fernández Romero
Cayetano Fernández Romero is a Doctor of History from the University of Navarra. He is currently a professor and academic coordinator of the Institute of Humanism and Society of the San Jorge University. He is also a researcher of the group Migraciones, Interculturalidad y Desarrollo Humano, recognized and funded by the Government of Aragon. His lines of research are migration and the media, the integration of immigrants, interculturality, history, demography, and social movements. His scientific production in national and international journals with impact value has been recognized with six years of research by the National Commission for Evaluating Research Activity (CNEAI, by its acronym in Spanish). He has also directed four doctoral theses and participated in different European funding projects.
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Carmela García Ortega
Carmela García Ortega is a Doctor in Communication from the University of Navarra. She is currently Head of Studies at the Faculty of Communication and Social Sciences of the San Jorge University. Her lines of research are political communication and the history of journalism. She has expanded her training in research methodologies at the universities of Salamanca and Essex (United Kingdom). Main researcher of Comunicación, Periodismo, Política y Ciudadanía, a research group recognized by the Government of Aragon. She is also a project evaluator for the Spanish Research Agency, has six years of research recognized by the National Commission for Evaluating Research Activity (CNEAI, by its acronym in Spanish) (2008-2014) and five years of teaching excellence by the USJ. She has co-directed two doctoral theses and is accredited by the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA, by its acronym in Spanish) in the figures of Hired Doctor Professor, Private University, and Assistant Doctor.
H- index: 9.
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