The Representational Strategies of Lionization and Victimization in ISIS’s Online Magazine, Dabiq

This paper is a multimodal critical discourse study of self-representation in ISIS’s e-magazine, Dabiq, employing Social Movement Theory and Van Leeuwen’s Socio-semantic Inventory. By analyzing the linguistic and non-linguistic features in the representation of social actors and actions in Dabiq, ISIS’s implied ideology at the macro level, which is to convince the prospective recruits and at the same time, to legitimize its brutality, is revealed from both textual and visual perspectives. The results showed an interplay of the contradictory representational choices, namely “lionization” and “victimization” that has enabled ISIS to create a powerful narrative. By portraying its so-called “knights” as undefeatable lions and glorifying their acts of violence, while, excluding its killed, injured or imprisoned agents both textually and visually, ISIS has attempted to provoke admiration among its current or potential followers. Significantly, they simultaneously depict an air of victimhood to further legitimize their act of terror and represent themselves as the godsent saviours of the victims, and confer a sense of security in their hearts. Victimization, however, has rarely been applied to the Mujahidin of the State who are fighting at forefronts, but rather to the State itself as a territory (Caliphate) and to the Muslims who are presumably plagued by the enemies’ transgression and injustice.

Tags: legitimation, Multimodal critical discourse analysis, representation, social actions, social actors, social movement theory