A multicultural nation and its (Muslim) Other? Political leadership and media reporting in the wake of the ‘Sydney siege’

Val Colic-Peisker, Maša Mikola, Karien Dekker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores public reactions to an event dubbed the ‘Sydney siege’, through an analysis of its media coverage. The event, where a Muslim man held 18 hostages in a Sydney café, was closely followed during its 22 hour duration and triggered an avalanche of public commentary. We analyse media articles, political leaders’ media statements and transcripts of press conferences published within the week of the siege. Using NVivo software, we code the key themes arising from the data and employ in-depth textual and discourse analyses of the most prominent themes: multiculturalism, Islam/Muslims and ‘community/solidarity’. Using the theoretical framework of the nation as an imagined community which needs its ‘Others’, we find that the ‘Sydney siege’ lead to emphasising hegemonic ideas of the Australian national identity and values that mark the boundaries of nationhood, community belonging and solidarity. Such ideas placed Muslims precariously at the national margin, applying a simplistic binary of the ‘good ones’ worthy of inclusion into the ‘good nation’ and the ‘bad ones’ to be excluded. We conclude that the public discourse following the Sydney siege affirmed Australian multiculturalism in a broad sense but also strongly implied the Otherness of Muslims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-389
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Intercultural Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • belonging
  • Islamophobia
  • multiculturalism
  • Muslims
  • nation
  • nationalism
  • Othering

Cite this