Fitna, the video battle: how YouTube enables the young to perform their religious and public identities

Project start date: 2009-06 Project end date: 2010-05
In March 2008, Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders released a 16 minute anti-Islam movie called Fitna. Wilders had a hard time finding a broadcaster or internet provider willing to air the film, because his mere idea caused an immense global controversy, leading to death threats, violent protest, diplomatic incidents and fierce public debate. One of the reactions consisted of organised and unorganised video protest by young people from all over the world, who uploaded their reactions to websites such as YouTube or LiveLeak. These videos form the material for this research project funded by the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Program.
Methods usedCategory
Collaborative publishingData publishing and dissemination
Content analysisData analysis
Manual input and transcriptionData capture
Statistical analysisData analysis
Use of existing digital dataData capture
Funding sources: 
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Content types created: 
Software tools used: 
  • LexiURL
  • YouTube
Source material used:  
YouTube videos, e-interviews with posters
Digital resource created:  
The selected videos have been archived on a hard disk which will be made available to the research councils' databases after the project is finished
Access to digital resource:  
Open Access
Zoonen, L. van, Vis, F. and S. Mihelj (2010). Performing citizenship on YouTube: activism, satire and online debate around the anti-Islam video Fitna. Critical Discourse Studies, vol.7(4), p.249-262.

Vis,F., Van Zoonen, L. and S. Mihelj (2010). Women responding to the anti-Islam film Fitna: voices and acts of citizenship on YouTube. Accepted for publication in Feminist Review.

Zoonen, L. van, Müller, F. and F. Hirzalla (2009). De slag om Fitna [Fitna, the video battle]. In M. Aarts and M. van der Haak (eds). Popvirus: popularization of religion and culture. Amsterdam: Aksant Publishers.

Zoonen, L. van, Vis, F, and S. Mihelj (under review). YouTube interactions between agonism, antagonism and dialogue: video responses to the anti-Islam film Fitna. Available on request from the research team.

Vis, F., van Zoonen, L. & S. Mihelj (2009).'Women's voices in and around Fitna'. Paper presented at CRESC Religion, Media and Social Change symposium on Media Reception, Participation and Power, London, 27 June 2009.

Vis, F., Thelwall, M., van Zoonen, L. and Mihelj, S. (2010), Challenging dominant representations of Islam online: innovative methods for studying YouTube, Innovative Methods in the Study of Religion Conference, London, 29-30 March.

Vis, F., van Zoonen, L. and Mihelj, S.(2010), Fitna: the video battle. Outreach, impact and creative dissemination. Presented at the Public Engagement for Arts, Humanities and Social Science Researchers event, organised by Connection Factory, University of Westminister, 29 April.

Institutions affiliated with this project: 

UK HE institutions involved:
Loughborough University

Project staff and expertise: 

Principal staff member:Professor Liesbet van Zoonen, dr. Sabina Mihelj, dr. Farida Vis
Other staff:
External expertise:Professor Mike Thelwall, University of Wolverhampton, cybermetric analysis of YouTube videos

Metadata on this record
Author(s) of recordLiesbet van Zoonen
TitleFitna, the video battle: how YouTube enables the young to perform their religious and public identities
Record created2010-09-27
Record updated2010-09-28 08:36
URL of record
Citation of recordLiesbet van Zoonen: Fitna, the video battle: how YouTube enables the young to perform their religious and public identities. <> created: 2010-09-27, last updated 2010-09-28 08:36

End of grant report

The end of grant report, and the list of publications, papers, presentations and talks are now available.

final_report_fitna.pdf 586.28 KB
fitna_publications_pdf.pdf 277.71 KB
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