Emotional Politics, Islamophobic Tweet. The Hashtags #Brexit and #chiudiamoiporti


Abstract


Contemporary far-right politicians increasingly diffuse messages through social networks. This article argues that online communication may prove effective for political engagement because it can create emotional reactions against certain groups, in a process that I call "emotional antagonism." An example of emotional antagonism is online Islamophobia, which considers Islam as supposedly incompatible with democratic values and tends to conflate Muslims with migrants. Through qualitative observations and textual analyses of tweets, this article explores the following questions: How do certain online exchanges emotionally frame Muslims as the social "others" in relation to European culture? Why and how does the Internet facilitate the spread of emotional antagonism? What type of political propaganda and participation is connected to affective online Islamophobia? The article analyses two case studies: 1) Islamophobic tweets sent in the aftermath of the British referendum in 2016, with the hashtag #Brexit; 2) Anti-Muslim tweets that contain the hashtag #chiudiamoiporti (close the ports), launched by Italian Vice Prime Minister Matteo Salvini in 2018 to support anti-migration measures. The article shows that exploring emotional antagonism can add complexity to the current understanding of Islamophobic conflicts, of social media platforms' characteristics, and of political participation based on online communication.

Keywords: Brexit; Islamophobia; migration; Matteo Salvini; Twitter

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