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Mediated Muslim martyrdom: Rethinking digital solidarity in the “Arab Spring”

TitleMediated Muslim martyrdom: Rethinking digital solidarity in the “Arab Spring”
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsSumiala, J, Korpiola, L
JournalNew Media & Society

In today’s world of networked, mobile, and global digital communication, Muslim martyrdom as a multi-layered communicative practice has experienced a new type of media saturation, thereby posing a challenge for the study of media, religion, and culture in a digital age. In this article, the analysis focuses on two cases of high symbolic relevance for the events later referred to as the “Arab Spring”—the deaths of a Tunisian fruit seller Mohammed Bouazizi and a young Egyptian man Khaled Saeed. Special focus is given to the discussion of digital solidarities and their construction in circulation and remediation of martyr narratives of Bouazizi and Saeed in diverse media contexts. In this global development of digital solidarities, we identify two categories of martyr images of particular relevance—a “living martyr” and a “tortured martyr”—and discuss their resonance with different historical, religious, cultural, and political frames of interpretation. In conclusion, we reflect on the question of the ethics of global mediation of Muslim martyrdom and its implications for the study field of media, religion, and culture in its digital state.