“My Muslim sister, indeed you are a mujahidah” - Narratives in the propaganda of the Islamic State to address and radicalize Western Women. An Exemplary analysis of the online magazine Dabiq


  • Julia Musial Julia Musial is a graduate of the Institute of Political Science in the University of Tuebingen. (julia.musial@web.de). The author appreciates the advice provided by Prof. Dr. Marie Duboc during the writing of this article and thanks the two reviewers of the Journal for Deradicalization for their advice and recommendations on a previous version of the article.


female radicalization, women in terrorist groups, Islamic State, jihadist propaganda, recruitment, Dabiq


The terrorist group Islamic State succeeds in radicalizing thousands of young people from the West, among them a large number of women. Although the phenomenon of female members in terrorist groups is not entirely new, the massive commitment of females for the Islamic State is surprising. The group makes strong use of the internet, especially social media, to spread its propaganda which contributes to female radicalization and might even lead to their recruitment. By now it is known that the push and especially the pull factors appearing in the radicalization process are different than those in male radicalization. Howeverresearch does barely take the gender-specific dynamics into account when it comes to the development of measures that counter Islamic radicalization. At this point, I argue that a deeper understanding of the gender-specific narratives of the group serves as a key point to develop effective measures. In the propaganda of the Islamic State that directly addresses women from the West, certain narratives can be found. With the analysis of articles that address women taken from the online magazine Dabiq, I identified nine narratives outlined in this paper. The investigation of both images and the strategic use of language in the considered articles indicate how the narratives are constructed. The emphasis on religious and gender-specific narratives in the articles leads me to argue in favor of a stronger focus on female-specific counter-radicalization measures. The involvement of the findings from this paper into radicalization research may help to develop effective counter-narratives and adjust them gender-specifically.


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