Australia's Muslim population is ethnically diverse, with overseas-bom Muslims coming from the Middle East, Southern and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and a multitude of places in between (Omar and Allen 11). However, Australian Muslims are often homogenised, and the notion that they are "a single formidable mass whose ideas and values do not fit in Western society", resulted in suggestions by politicians that Australia should reconsider its policy concerning Muslim migration (Saeed 187). Global events such as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the subsequent attacks in Bali and London, have further contributed to this negative perception of Islam and Muslims in general, reinforcing the belief that Muslims are violent, threatening, and extreme. While the discourse has predominantly focused on the agency of men, Muslim women have also emerged as the symbols of Muslim identity in Western societies (Yasmeen 42). The interest in the dress code adopted by Muslim women, particularly concerning the hijab and veil, signifies this new trend in the symbolic significance of Muslim women (Yasmeen 42). This interest has also extended to exploring the roles and practices of Muslim women both in Islamic societies and in the West. One of the areas that has shown interest in and given substantial attention to Muslim women is the Western media.
Studies, however, have shown that this media attention has largely been negative (Kampmark 100; Bullock and Jafri 35; Kutty 14). In a similar vein, this thesis aims to examine the representations of Muslim women in the Australian print media. Using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), this study analyses the Australian, Australia's national newspaper, from 1 June 2006 to 1 June 2007, and argues that the discursive strategies used by media elites have, more often than not, represented Muslim women negatively and have contributed to the enactment and reproduction of "new" racism. This study also demonstrates that positive self-presentation and negative other-presentation, integral to the "ideological square", are evident in the articles under analysis.