Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Julia Sweet (Rutgers University, USA)

Terrorism and Radical Islam in Public Perception: Myths and Truth

This paper analyzes the public perception of terrorist threat and terrorism as a phenomenon through the evaluation of the main factors that influence and shape this perception in Russia. With the engagement of Russia in the bloody wars in Chechnya in the 1990s, society has begun to establish an image of terrorism, establishing a ground for particular stereotypes. In modern Russia, the public perception of terrorist threats influence multinational connections and the level of national antagonism within society. Media, reports, public speeches, and opinions of government officials and politicians - all these factors carve social myths as well as provide valuable knowledge about terrorism and radical Islam. Media attention is not only an effective communicative tool by which terrorists get in touch with their audiences, but a main source of knowledge for the majority of the Russian population. In light of this, to identify the range of imposed public myths, the first part of the paper scrutinizes the media coverage, TV programs, movies, and documentaries of domestic and international terrorist attacks. Given the fact that the popularity of particular political figures can impact the public mind, the second part examines the role of politicians in shaping public perception through an in-depth analysis of reports, opinions and speeches of government officials. In light of this, the research studies Putin's and Medvedev's public speeches. The final part provides a holistic analysis of false and realistic public assumptions associated with terrorism and radical Islam.