New Book on Freedom of Expression and the Rise of Extremism

A new anthology ”Transnational Othering – Global Diversities, Media, Extremism and Free Expression”, edited by professor Elisabeth Eide, professor Kristin Skare Orgeret and Nil Mutluer (PhD) addresses issues such as the rise of extremism and terrorism, conflicts concerning diversity and minority rights, as well as the situation for freedom of expression. The contributors are from a range of countries, most of them with a Muslim majority population.

We asked professor Elisabeth Eide a few questions about the new book.

Why is this book important?

– It brings together journalists and researchers, some of the latter with a journalist background, and thus may contribute to building bridges between media academics and society. Also, due to the current focus on Islam in Europe and other “Western” countries, this volume brings more understanding of what we in the “media world” all share across imagined and real boundaries.

How would you describe the relationship between extremists and the media?

– First, many have clearly underestimated their skills when it comes to using social media for recruitment. Second, journalists face dilemmas when reporting on extremist attacks and their organizations in general, which is amply demonstrated in some chapters, and which is also part of the freedom of expression dilemmas. Third, both researchers and journalists need to delve deeper into the roots of (media) extremism and its appeal, especially to young people.

What are the new challenges to freedom of expression?

– Some of them have to do with what I mentioned above, giving extremists – be they extreme Islamists or right-wing – attention and voice or not. We also see how governments use the existence and activities of extremists to curb peaceful opposition. Debates on what should be labelled ‘blasphemy’ and the function of blasphemy laws are also challenging.

Is there anything else you would like to say about the book?

– The book is part of a larger endeavour. The Journalism and Media International Center (JMIC) has for the past years been involved in connecting people for conferences and workshops on vital issues such as how we cover each other, how we think of religion’s role in society, and not least freedom of expression and the rise of extremism. It is our hope that it can contribute to more widespread debates around these issues.

Photo by Elisabeth Eide outside the Centre des Études Arabes in Paris, a few weeks after the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo 2015.

For more information visit The Journalism and Media International Center (JMIC).

Transnational Othering – Global Diversities, Media, Extremism and Free Expression is available to download as Open Access on Nordicom’s website.