Volume 18, Issue 6
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This article investigates the image portrayed of Islam and Muslims in official speeches of the former US President, Barack Obama during his two terms in office. Applying qualitative data coding procedures and based on a Critical Discourse Studies (CDS) approach, we examine 377 speeches delivered in the period of 2009–2016 within the macro context of US involvements in contemporary international politics to uncover the discursive image of Islam and Islamic attributes projected and subtly reproduced over time by Obama during his presidency. The outcome comprises four major themes shaped around the notions of America’s fundamental values; Dialogue with Muslim communities; Defining good Islam; and Defining bad Muslims. Through a detailed discussion of the discursive construction of these themes and specifically referring to their lexical highlights, we illustrate aspects of Islam-related issues in the view of an American president.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Austermuhl, Frank
    2014The Great American Scaffold: Intertextuality and Identity in American Presidential Discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/dapsac.53
    https://doi.org/10.1075/dapsac.53 [Google Scholar]
  2. Ben-Porath, Eran N.
    2008Presidents Creating the Presidency: Deeds Done in Words. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Blum, William
    2013America’s Deadliest Export; Democracy. London: Zed Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Cap, Piotr
    2002Explorations in Political Discourse: Methodological and Critical Perspectives. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Charmaz, Kathryn
    (2006) Constructing Grounded Theory. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Charteris-Black, Jonathan
    2013Analysing Political Speeches: Rhetoric, Discourse and Metaphor. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Chilton, Paul
    2004Analysing Political Discourse: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203561218
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203561218 [Google Scholar]
  8. Chouliaraki, Lilie
    (2007) The Soft Power of War. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/bct.3
    https://doi.org/10.1075/bct.3 [Google Scholar]
  9. de Gialdino, Vasilachis
    2010 “Labour, Workers and Work: Sociological and Linguistic Analysis of Political Discourse.” Critical Discourse Studies7 (3): 203–217. 10.1080/17405904.2010.491223
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2010.491223 [Google Scholar]
  10. Fairclough, Isabela, and Norman Fairclough
    2012Political Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Fairclough, Norman
    2012 “Critical Discourse Analysis.” InThe Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis, ed. byJames Paul Gee, and Michael Handford, 9–20. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Filardo-Llamas, Laura
    2015 “Re-Contextualizing Political Discourse.” Critical Discourse Studies12 (3): 279–296. 10.1080/17405904.2015.1013478
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2015.1013478 [Google Scholar]
  13. Flick, Uwe
    (ed) 2014The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis. London: Sage. 10.4135/9781446282243
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446282243 [Google Scholar]
  14. Graham, David A.
    2017 “A Short History of U.S. Presidents Explaining Islam to Muslims.” The Atlantic. Accessed March 18, 2018. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/05/american-presidents-explain-islam-to-muslim/527415/
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Hafez, Farid
    2017 “Debating the 2015 Islam Law in Austrian Parliament: Between Legal Recognition and Islamophobic Populism.” Discourse & Society28(4): 392–412. doi:  10.1177/0957926517703223
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926517703223 [Google Scholar]
  16. Hart, Christopher, and Piotr Cap
    (eds) 2014Contemporary Critical Discourse Studies. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Jager, Siegfried
    2001 “Discourse and Knowledge: Theoretical and Methodological Aspects of a Critical Discourse and Dispositive Analysis.” InMethods of Critical Discourse Analysis, ed. byRuth Wodak, and Michael Meyer, 32–62. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Kampf, Zohar, and Yossi David
    2019 “Too Good to be True: The Effect of Conciliatory Message Design on Compromising Attitudes in Intractable Conflicts.” Discourse & Society30(3): 264–286. 10.1177/0957926519828030
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926519828030 [Google Scholar]
  19. Kienpointner, Manfred
    2013 “Strategic Maneuvering in the Political Rhetoric of Barack Obama.” Journal of Language and Politics12 (3): 357–377. 10.1075/jlp.12.3.03kie
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlp.12.3.03kie [Google Scholar]
  20. Lu, Louis Wei-Lun
    2008 “Ideological Influence on BUILDING Metaphors in Taiwanese Presidential Speeches.” Discourse and Society19 (3): 383–408. 10.1177/0957926508088966
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926508088966 [Google Scholar]
  21. Maalej, Zouhair
    2012 “The ‘Jasmine Revolt’ has Made the ‘Arab Spring’: A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Last Three Political Speeches of the Ousted President of Tunisia.” Discourse Society23 (6): 679–700. 10.1177/0957926512452973
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926512452973 [Google Scholar]
  22. Mazid, Bahaa-eddin M.
    2007 “Presuppositions and Strategic Functions in Bush’s 20/9/2001 Speech: A Critical Discourse Analysis.” Journal of Language and Politics6 (3): 351–375. 10.1075/jlp.6.3.05maz
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlp.6.3.05maz [Google Scholar]
  23. Mirhosseini, Seyyed-Abdolhamid
    2017 “Discursive Double-Legitimation of (Avoiding) another War in Obama’s 2013 Address on Syria.” Journal of Language and Politics16(5): 706–730. doi:  10.1075/jlp.16016.mir
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlp.16016.mir [Google Scholar]
  24. Mirhosseini, Seyyed-Abdolhamid, and Hossein Rouzbeh
    (eds) 2015Instances of Islamaphobia: Demonizing the Muslim ‘Other’. Lanham, MD, USA: Lexington books.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Neagu, Maria-Ionela
    2013Decoding Political Discourse: Conceptual Metaphors and Argumentation. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/9781137309907
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137309907 [Google Scholar]
  26. Oddo, John
    2011 “War Legitimation Discourse: Representing ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ in Four US Presidential Addresses.” Discourse and Society22 (3): 287–314. 10.1177/0957926510395442
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926510395442 [Google Scholar]
  27. Pu, Chang
    2007 “Discourse Analysis of President Bush’s Speech at Tsinghua University, China.” Intercultural Communication Studies16(1): 205–216.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Pujante, David, and Esperanza Morales-Lopez
    2008 “A Political Action against Popular Opinion: Aznar’s Final Speech before the Spanish Parliament Justifying the War in Iraq (December 2003).” Journal of Language and Politics7 (1): 71–96. 10.1075/jlp.7.1.04puj
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlp.7.1.04puj [Google Scholar]
  29. Reyes-Rodriguez, Antonio
    2008 “Discursive Strategies in Chavez’s Political Discourse: Voicing, Distancing, and Dhifting.” Critical Discourse Studies5 (2): 133–152. 10.1080/17405900801990074
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17405900801990074 [Google Scholar]
  30. Salama, Amir H. Y.
    2012 “The Rhetoric of Collocational, Intertextual and Institutional Pluralization in Obama’s Cairo Speech: A Discourse-Analytical Approach.” Critical Discourse Studies9 (3): 211–229. 10.1080/17405904.2012.688296
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2012.688296 [Google Scholar]
  31. Schreier, Margrit
    2012Qualitative Content Analysis in Practice. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Sharifi, Mahdi, Nafiseh Ansari, and Mina Asadollahzadeh
    2017 “A Critical Discourse Analytic Approach to Discursive Construction of Islam in Western Talk Shows: The Case of CNN Talk Shows.” International Communication Gazette79(1): 45–63. 10.1177/1748048516656301
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1748048516656301 [Google Scholar]
  33. Shukry, Azimah S. M.
    2013 “A critical discourse analysis of Mahathir Mohamad‘s speeches on the ‘war on terror’.” Intellectual Discourse21(2): 171–195.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Teo, Chin S. P. and Cui Ruiguo
    2015 “Imag(in)ing the Nation: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Singapore’s National Day Rally Speech.” Journal of Language and Politics14 (5): 645–664. 10.1075/jlp.14.5.02teo
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlp.14.5.02teo [Google Scholar]
  35. Tsui, Chin-Kuei
    2014 Tracing the Discursive Origins of the War on Terror: President Clinton and the Construction of New Terrorism in the Post-Cold War Era. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Otago, New Zealand.
  36. Van Dijk, Teun A.
    2002 “Political Discourse and Political Cognition.” InPolitics as Text and Talk: Analytical Approaches to Political Discourse, ed. byPaul Chilton, and Christina Schaffner, 204–236. Amsterdam: John Benjamines. 10.1075/dapsac.4.11dij
    https://doi.org/10.1075/dapsac.4.11dij [Google Scholar]
  37. 2004 “Ideology and Discourse Analysis.” Oxford Symposium on Ideology. AccessedFebruary 15, 2004. www.discursos.org/unpublished%20articles/Ideology%20and%20discourse%20analysis.htm
    [Google Scholar]
  38. 2006 “Politics, Ideology and Discourse.” InElsevier Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2nd ed.), ed. byRuth Wodak, 728–740. Oxford: Elsevier. 10.1016/B0‑08‑044854‑2/00722‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1016/B0-08-044854-2/00722-7 [Google Scholar]
  39. 2007 “Macro Contexts.” InDiscourse and International Relations, ed. byDagmar Scheu Lottgen, and Jose Saura Sanchez, 3–26. Bern: Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. 2009Society and Discourse: How Social Contexts Influence Text and Talk. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511575273
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511575273 [Google Scholar]
  41. 2012 “Discourse and Knowledge.” InHandbook of Discourse Analysis, ed. byJames Paul Gee, and Michael Handford, 587–603. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. 2015 “Critical Discourse Analysis.” InThe Handbook of Discourse Analysis (2nd ed), ed. byDeborah Tannen, Heidi E. Hamilton, and Deborah Schiffrin, 466–485. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. 2016 “Critical Discourse Studies: A Sociocognitive Approach.” InMethods of Critical Discourse Studies (3rd ed), ed byRuth Wodak, and Michael Meyer, 62–85. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Van Leeuwen, Theo
    2009 “Critical Discourse Analysis.” InConcise Encyclopedia of Pragmatics (2nd ed), ed. byJacob L. May, 166–169. Oxford: Elsevier.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Wijsen, Frans
    2013 “‘There are Radical Muslims and Normal Muslims’: An Analysis of the Discourse on Islamic Extremism.” Religion43(1): 70–88. 10.1080/0048721X.2013.742745
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0048721X.2013.742745 [Google Scholar]
  46. Wodak, Ruth
    2009The Discourse of Politics in Action: Politics as Usual. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. 2012 “Politics as Usual: Investigating Political Discourse in Action.” InThe Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis, ed. byJames Paul Gee, and Michael Handford, 525–540. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. 2013Critical Discourse Analysis (FourVolumes). London: Sage. 10.4135/9781446286289
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446286289 [Google Scholar]
  49. Wodak, Ruth, Wimston Kwon, and Ian Clarke
    2011 “‘Getting People on Board’: Discursive Leadership for Consensus Building in Team Meetings.” Discourse and Society22 (5): 592–644. 10.1177/0957926511405410
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926511405410 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error