The Listening Post

Liberation or obliteration? Telling the Raqqa story

How media on different sides of the Syrian war portrayed the capture of Raqqa from ISIL. Plus, Syria’s Lebanon refugees.

On The Listening Post this week: How media on different sides of the Syrian war portrayed the capture of Raqqa from ISIL. Plus, Lebanese media and the targeting of refugees.

Competing narratives on Raqqa

More than three years ago, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, which is also known as ISIS) captured the city of Raqqa and declared it the capital of its caliphate.

Images that emerged from the city, of atrocities used as propaganda, have been some of the most gruesome and distressing media output to emerge from a war that continues to cause untold suffering.

When the Syrian Democratic Forces finally rolled into al-Naim Square, Western journalists travelling with them told a story of triumph and liberation.

The story that gets told, however, depends on who is telling it.

The multiple governments implicated in the ongoing war imply multiple narratives and the job of untangling them continues.

Lina Khatib, head of the Middle East and North Africa programme, Chatham House
Omar Al Ghazzi, assistant professor of Media, LSE
AbdAlaziz Alhamza, cofounder, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently
Christa Salamandra, professor of anthropology, The City University of New York
Bassam Haddad, co-editor, Jadaliyya

On our radar

  • Authorities in Russia investigated the attempted murder of a Moscow-based radio host who was critical of Kremlin.
  • An Indian court serves an injunction against a news website that investigated the finances of a businessman with close ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Barcelona-based TV3, the media mouthpiece of Spain’s Catalan, is under threat from Madrid as the Spanish government considers its dissolution.

The fear and loathing of Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Over a million Syrians have fled to Lebanon since the war began but their reception across the border has grown increasingly hostile.

Pick up a Lebanese newspaper or turn on the TV and you think conclude that problems that have dogged Lebanon for years such as electricity cuts, a lack of jobs and chronic pollution all began with the arrival of the refugees.

The toxic rhetoric often starts at the political level but since almost every news outlet in Lebanon has some kind of political affiliation the rhetoric often finds its way in the reporting.

The Listening Post‘s Tariq Nafi reports.

Ayman Mhanna, executive director, Samir Kassir Foundation
Kareem Chehayeb, journalist
Diana Moukalled, tv producer and columnist
Walid Abboud, editor-in-chief, MTV