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Political Discussions in the Arab World

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021093/00001

Material Information

Title: Political Discussions in the Arab World A Look at Online Forums from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt
Physical Description: 1 online resource (115 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Al Nashmi, Eiss
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: arab, arabia, discussions, east, egypt, forums, internet, jordan, kuwait, media, middle, online, politics, saudi, world
Journalism and Communications -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Mass Communication thesis, M.A.M.C.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: By analyzing political discussions in online forums from four Arab countries (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan), this study presents an image of the Arab world and its people that is contradictory to the stereotypical and negative picture supplied by the Western media. The Western media have continually framed the Arab world as one homogenous region, but by analyzing political discussions in online forums from four Arab countries, this study found otherwise. Through the exploration of political interest of Arabs, it was clear that every Arab country has its own political agenda determined by its own geographical, historical, cultural, and political contexts. The Arab world is also perceived by the media as being a threat to the West. While the study found that Arabs were very critical of those who dispute and challenge them, violent and/or threatening discussions aimed at Western countries were rarely found. This study was also able to show that in closed societies like the Arab world, people can now express themselves freely over the Internet. This freedom, however, does not appear to undermine the political future of the Arab authoritarian governments.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Eiss Al Nashmi.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Local: Adviser: McAdams, Melinda J.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2009-08-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2007
System ID: UFE0021093:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021093/00001

Material Information

Title: Political Discussions in the Arab World A Look at Online Forums from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt
Physical Description: 1 online resource (115 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Al Nashmi, Eiss
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: arab, arabia, discussions, east, egypt, forums, internet, jordan, kuwait, media, middle, online, politics, saudi, world
Journalism and Communications -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Mass Communication thesis, M.A.M.C.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: By analyzing political discussions in online forums from four Arab countries (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan), this study presents an image of the Arab world and its people that is contradictory to the stereotypical and negative picture supplied by the Western media. The Western media have continually framed the Arab world as one homogenous region, but by analyzing political discussions in online forums from four Arab countries, this study found otherwise. Through the exploration of political interest of Arabs, it was clear that every Arab country has its own political agenda determined by its own geographical, historical, cultural, and political contexts. The Arab world is also perceived by the media as being a threat to the West. While the study found that Arabs were very critical of those who dispute and challenge them, violent and/or threatening discussions aimed at Western countries were rarely found. This study was also able to show that in closed societies like the Arab world, people can now express themselves freely over the Internet. This freedom, however, does not appear to undermine the political future of the Arab authoritarian governments.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Eiss Al Nashmi.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Local: Adviser: McAdams, Melinda J.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2009-08-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2007
System ID: UFE0021093:00001


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1 POLITICAL DISCUSSIONS IN THE ARAB WORLD: A LOOK AT ONLINE FORUMS FR OM KUWAIT, SAUDI ARABIA, JORDAN, AND EGYPT By EISA AL NASHMI A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007

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2 2007 Eisa Al Nashmi

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3 There are many people in my life who deserve this dedication, but if it wasnt for my country, Kuwait, I wouldnt have gotten a chance to write this thesis in the first place. To Kuwait, with great love and respect

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my friends and family in Kuwait who have supported me and encouraged me throughout the years I have spent away from home. I have been told by many of my peers that selecting the right committee is essential in completing a successful project. Fo r that, I have to say I was very lucky to work with my chair, Melinda McAdams, and my committee members, Johanna Cleary and Juan-Carlos Molleda. They were very supportive and always available. Above all, was the motivation I gained from their positivity and excitement expressed th roughout the time I was working on this study. I would also like to thank Ahmad Al-Basheer, Abdullah Almutairi, and Muhammad Almatar for helping me during the coding and data collection phases of this study. Special thanks to all my co lleagues from Student Future.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........8 LIST OF FIGURES................................................................................................................ .........9 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ............13 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................14 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................................................................17 Democratization Effect......................................................................................................... ..17 Internet in the Arab World..................................................................................................... .22 Countries...................................................................................................................... ...........24 Kuwait......................................................................................................................... ....24 Saudi Arabia................................................................................................................... .26 Egypt.......................................................................................................................... ......28 Jordan......................................................................................................................... .....30 3 METHODOLOGY.................................................................................................................34 Population..................................................................................................................... ..........34 Sahat KSA, Saudi Arabia................................................................................................35 Egypt Sons, Egypt...........................................................................................................35 Abu Mahjoob, Jordan......................................................................................................36 Al Ommah, Kuwait.........................................................................................................36 Sample......................................................................................................................... ...........37 Units of Analysis.............................................................................................................. ......38 RQ1: How Interested Are Arab Internet Users in Politics?............................................38 RQ2: What Were the To pics of Discussion?...................................................................39 RQ3: How Were Human Subjects Framed?....................................................................39 RQ4: What Was the Tone of the Original Post?.............................................................40 RQ5: How Did Forum Users React to the Original Post?...............................................41 Pilot Study.................................................................................................................... ..........42 Inter-Coder Reliability........................................................................................................ ....42 4 RESULTS........................................................................................................................ .......45 RQ1: How Interested Are Arab Internet Users in Politics?....................................................45 Saudi Arabia: Sahat KSA................................................................................................45 Egypt: Egypt Sons...........................................................................................................45

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6 Jordan: Abu-Mahjoob......................................................................................................45 Kuwait: Al Ommah.........................................................................................................46 RQ2: What Were the To pics of Discussion?..........................................................................46 Overall........................................................................................................................ .....46 Within Forums.................................................................................................................47 Political issues..........................................................................................................47 Social issues.............................................................................................................47 Religious issues........................................................................................................48 Nations.....................................................................................................................48 RQ3: How Were Human Subjects Framed?...........................................................................49 Overall........................................................................................................................ .....49 Within Forums.................................................................................................................49 RQ4: What Was the Tone of the Original Post?.....................................................................50 Overall........................................................................................................................ .....50 Within Forums.................................................................................................................51 RQ5: How Did Forum Users React to the Original Post?......................................................53 Number of Comments and Views...................................................................................53 Comments Agreeing, Disa greeing and Adding...............................................................53 5 DISCUSSION..................................................................................................................... ....85 RQ1: How Interested Are Arab Internet Users in Politics?....................................................85 RQ2: What Were the To pics of Discussion?..........................................................................86 Overall........................................................................................................................ .....86 Within Forums.................................................................................................................87 Kuwait......................................................................................................................87 Saudi Arabia.............................................................................................................89 Jordan.......................................................................................................................92 Egypt........................................................................................................................94 RQ3: How Were Human Subjects Framed?...........................................................................96 RQ4: What Was the Tone of the Original Post?.....................................................................96 Overall........................................................................................................................ .....96 Within forums..................................................................................................................98 RQ5: How Did Forum Users React to the Original Post?....................................................100 6 CONCLUSION.....................................................................................................................102 7 LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE WORK.............................................................................104 Limitations.................................................................................................................... ........104 Future Work.................................................................................................................... ......104 APPENDIX A CODING SHEET.................................................................................................................106 B CODING GUIDE.................................................................................................................108

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7 C LIST OF REFERENCES......................................................................................................112 D BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH................................................................................................115

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8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2-1 Profiles of the countries selected.......................................................................................33 3-1 Sample size from each forum............................................................................................44 3-2 Topics analyzed in the study..............................................................................................44 4-1 List of categories fr om the Sahat KSA forum...................................................................55 4-2 List of categories from the Egypt Sons forum...................................................................56 4-3 List of categories from the Abu-Mahjoob forum...............................................................57 4-4 List of categories fr om the Al Ommah forum...................................................................57 4-5 Frequencies of topics di scussed across all forums.............................................................58 4-6 Frequencies of countries discussed across all forums........................................................58 4-7 Framing of human subjects fr equency table across all forums..........................................58 4-8 Tone of original post fre quency table across all forums....................................................59 4-9 Number of Comm ents and Views......................................................................................59 4-10 Mean numbers of comments agreeing, disagreeing and adding in each forum.................59 A-1 Coding Sheet............................................................................................................... .....106

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9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3-1 Front page of Egypt Sons forum........................................................................................43 3-2 List of topics within a category of a forum........................................................................43 3-3 Number of threads and comments for each category within a forum................................44 4-1 Cross-tabulations between forums and government..........................................................59 4-2 Analysis of significance: forums and government.............................................................60 4-3 Cross-tabulations between fo rums and elected officials....................................................60 4-4 Analysis of significance: fo rums and elected officials......................................................60 4-5 Cross-tabulations betw een forums and elections...............................................................61 4-7 Cross-tabulations between forums and ideology...............................................................61 4-8 Analysis of significance: forums and ideology..................................................................62 4-9 Cross-tabulations between forums and war.......................................................................62 4-10 Analysis of significance: forums and war..........................................................................62 4-11 Cross-tabulations between forums and economy..............................................................63 4-12 Analysis of significance: forums and economy.................................................................63 4-13 Cross-tabulations betw een forums and media...................................................................63 4-14 Analysis of significance: forums and media......................................................................64 4-15 Cross-tabulations betwee n forums and minorities.............................................................64 4-16 Analysis of significance: forums and minorities...............................................................64 4-17 Cross-tabulations between forums and crime....................................................................65 4-18 Analysis of significance: forums and crime.......................................................................65 4-19 Cross-tabulations between forums and Islam....................................................................65 4-20 Analysis of significance: forums and Islam.......................................................................66 4-21 Cross-tabulations between forums and Sunni....................................................................66

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10 4-22 Analysis of significance: forums and Sunni......................................................................66 4-23 Cross-tabulations betw een forums and scholars................................................................67 4-24 Analysis of significan ce: forums and scholars...................................................................67 4-25 Cross-tabulations between forums and Shiites..................................................................67 4-26 Analysis of significance: forums and Shiites.....................................................................68 4-27 Cross-tabulations betwee n forums and Christianity..........................................................68 4-28 Analysis of significance: forums and Christianity.............................................................68 4-29 Cross-tabulations betwee n forums and local issues...........................................................69 4-30 Analysis of significance: forums and local issues.............................................................69 4-31 Cross-tabulations betwee n forums and Palestine...............................................................70 4-32 Analysis of significance: forums and Palestine.................................................................70 4-33 Cross-tabulations between forums and Lebanon...............................................................70 4-34 Analysis of significance: forums and Lebanon..................................................................70 4-35 Cross-tabulations between forums and Israel....................................................................71 4-36 Analysis of significance: forums and Israel.......................................................................71 4-37 Cross-tabulations between forums and U.S.A...................................................................71 4-38 Analysis of significance: forums and U.S.A......................................................................72 4-39 Cross-tabulations between forums and all Arab................................................................72 4-40 Analysis of significance: forums and all Arab...................................................................72 4-41 Cross-tabulations betwee n forums and other Arab............................................................73 4-42 Analysis of significance: forums and other Arab..............................................................73 4-43 Cross-tabulations betwee n forums and other non-Arab.....................................................73 4-44 Analysis of significance: forums and other non-Arab.......................................................74 4-45 Cross-tabulations between forums and framing of human subjects..................................74 4-46 Analysis of significance: forums and framing of human subjects.....................................74

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11 4-47 Cross-tabulations between tone and government across all forums..................................75 4-48 Analysis of significance: tone and government across all forums.....................................75 4-49 Cross-tabulations between t one and war across all forums...............................................75 4-50 Analysis of significance: t one and war across all forums..................................................76 4-51 Cross-tabulations between t one and Islam across all forums............................................76 4-52 Analysis of significance: tone and Islam across all forums...............................................76 4-53 Cross-tabulations between t one and Sunni across all forums............................................77 4-54 Analysis of significance: t one and Sunni across all forums..............................................77 4-55 Cross-tabulations between tone and Shiites across all forums..........................................77 4-56 Analysis of significance: tone and Shiites across all forums.............................................78 4-57 Cross-tabulations between tone and U.S.A. across all forums..........................................78 4-58 Analysis of significance: tone and U.S.A. across all forums.............................................78 4-59 Cross-tabulations between tone and all Arab across all forums........................................79 4-60 Analysis of significance: tone and all Arab across all forums...........................................79 4-61 Cross-tabulations between tone and forums......................................................................79 4-62 Analysis of signifi cance: tone and forums.........................................................................80 4-63 Cross-tabulations between tone and foru ms only with discussions about government.....80 4-64 Analysis of significance: tone and foru ms only with discussions about government.......80 4-65 Cross-tabulations between tone and forums only with discussions about local issues......81 4-66 Analysis of significance: tone and forums only with discussions about local issues........81 4-67 Cross-tabulations between tone and foru ms only with discussions about government.....81 4-68 Analysis of significance: tone and foru ms only with discussions about government.......82 4-69 Mean number of comments in each forum........................................................................82 4-70 Mean number of views in each forum...............................................................................83 4-71 Mean number of comments agreeing in each forum.........................................................83

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12 4-72 Mean number of comments disagreeing in each forum.....................................................83 4-73 Mean number of comments adding in each forum............................................................84

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13 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Mast er of Arts in Mass Communication POLITICAL DISCUSSIONS IN THE ARAB WORLD: A LOOK AT ONLINE FORUMS FR OM KUWAIT, SAUDI ARABIA, JORDAN AND EGYPT By Eisa Al Nashmi August 2007 Chair: Melinda McAdams Major: Mass Communication By analyzing political discussions in online fo rums from four Arab countriesKuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordanthis study presents an image of the Arab world and its people that is contradictory to the stereotypical and nega tive picture supplied by the Western media. The Western media have continually framed th e Arab world as one homogenous region, but by analyzing political discussions in online foru ms from four Arab countries, this study found otherwise. Through the exploration of political interest of Arabs, it was clear that every Arab country has its own political agenda determined by its ow n geographical, historical, cultural, and political contexts. The Arab world is also perceive d by the media as being a threat to the West. While the study found that Arabs were very critical of those who dispute and challeng e them, violent and/or threatening discussions aimed at We stern countries were rarely found. This study was also able to show that in clos ed societies like the Ar ab world, people can now express themselves freely over the Internet. This freedom, however, does not appear to undermine the political future of the Ar ab authoritarian governments.

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14 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION With the Arab world figuring prominently in recent controversies like the September 11th attacks, the continuing Israeli/Palestinian conf lict, and the Iraqi War, the Western media has succeeded in expanding public resentmentthrough negative coverage toward the region, but has failed to make sense of it. The Arab world, wher e the first civilization began and where the origins of literature, and political systems were first discovered, is a rich and diverse region with great cultural and historical significan ce. Often simplified into one homogenous and united region, this area of more than 20 countries is rather a melting pot of ethnicities, religio ns, cultures, political systems, and socio-economic conditions. Today, many people rely on the mass media for information about the world beyond they know, and for that, the media ha s unfortunately become powerf ul in creating and promoting stereotypes about other countries and cultures. Louw (2004) said in evaluating local news, the audiences can easily carry out their own reality ch ecks by comparing the news with their experiences and understandings, but when it comes to international news such reality checks do not exist. The audiences rather become solely dependent on the news media, and have no choice but to accept and believe what is reported. The Arab world is talked about in the me dia on a daily basis, and in most occurrences, coverage is surrounded by negativity. Arabs are viewed as a threat to the West, and way to reduce that threat is often said to be by democratizing the region. But do the media present an accurate picture of the Arab region, and are the Arabs willing or unwilling to embrace democracy? The best way to answer these questions is by going right to the source: the Arab world. Not many people have done that. Th is study, however, is one of the ve ry few that did. By analyzing current political discussions in online forums from four Arab countries: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, this study was able to reach it s objective: make sense of the Arab world and

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15 explore the diversity within the region by identifyi ng the political interests of Arab online users and their perceptions of the West and democracy. The Internet and globalizati on are acting like nutcrackers to open societies and empower Arab democrats with new tools, Thomas Friedm an wrote in The New Yo rk Times (2000, p. A25). But dont kid yourself, anti-democ ratic countertrends are also fl ourishing, and there's no telling who will prevail. Many people have supported this notion of the Internet being a global promoter of democracy, economic privatization and personal freedom. Dan Gillmor (2004) certainly thinks so. The Internet is slowly empowering the grassroots over corporations, governments and the media. For others like Deborah Wheeler (2006), this optimistic assumpti on is hardly supported by empirical evidence. In her ethnographic study of Internet users in Kuwait, Wh eeler (2006) asserts that online behavior is in part shaped by o ff-line variables (p. 189). These o ff-line variables include political, cultural and religious factors a specific country enco mpasses. Because of these off-line variables, we are experiencing the emergence of a distin ctive Kuwaiti Internet Culture (Wheeler, 2006, p. 31), which will be discussed later. The Arab world is without doubt a politic ally and culturally oppr essed society where governments exert some, if not complete, control over political public opinion, but with the Internet quickly flourishing in the region, many Arabs are now able to express their opinions freely online. But what are these political opinions about, who ar e they aimed at, and do they undermine the future of the region? This information was stored online for many years, a nd this study was one of the first to explore that information. With a growing global interest in the future of the Arab world, it was inferred that studying political opinions of Arab Inte rnet users, via their self-expressions in online forums, may yield valuable information about th e region and its people. Online forums were specifically used because no research about them and their uses in the Middle East was found, despite the fact that their use is pr evalent amongst Arab Internet users.

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16 By conducting a content analysis of political di scussions in four online forums from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, this study identifi ed whether political debate was a priority for Arab online users. The study also explored the dive rsity of topics discussed in those forums, and analyzed the tone of discussions by l ooking at the content and language used.

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17 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Democratization Effect In the past, information and communication t echnologies have proved to be effective in influencing political, cultural, and economic change. The printi ng press was believed to have brought success and power to the Protestant Reforma tion, while the use of fax machines gathered the Chinese Tiananmen Square demonstrators and th e 1991 Russian coup opponents. In the Middle East, Egypts Gamal Abdel Nasser used the radio to gain popular support and consent after the coup, and the lectures on smuggled cassette tapes strength ened the popularity of th e Iranian revolutionaries in the 1970s (Ghareeb, 2000). But has the Internet proved to be as effective as other inform ation technologies in transforming societies? In some cases the Internet has succeeded as a democratization tool, as in South Korea, where an online newspaper influenced the election of a reformist president (Gillmor, 2004). Running as a reformer in 2002, Roh Moo Hyun attracted many of the younger population who were captivated with new technologies such as S hort Message System (SMS) and on line forums. Roh also got the attention of many online publica tions especially OhmyNews.c omSouth Korea's most popular online newspaper, written by its readers. Becau se most of the public press was favoring the incumbent party who was in power for a very lo ng time, the younger generation found an alternative view in OhmyNews.com. It has been said that the online publication's extensive endorsement to Roh played a major role in electing him president. In 2004 when the Korean legislature impeached Roh, it is said that OhmyNews.com influenced th e public to vote for the reformist party, which eventually took cont rol of the legislat ure (Gillmor, 2004).

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18 But in many countries around the world, especi ally those with author itarian regimes, the Internet has been used to preserve powerthrough censorship a nd control rather than to promote reform (Kalathil & Boas, 2003). Certainly this is the case in the Arab world. Kalathil and Boas (2003) call the connec tion between technology development and democratization a conventional wisdom that is usually backed up with anecdotal rather than academic research. Proponents of the democratizati on effect often attribute political character to the Internet rather than focusing on hum an uses and practices. The In ternet, however, is only a set of connections between computers; it can have no impact apart from its use by human beings (p. 2). Proponents of the democratizing effect s of the Internet also relate the Internet to the downfall of authoritarian regimes, but rarely do they say how this might occur. Kalathil and Boas (2003) say inappropriate generalizations ha ve erupted out of these anecd otal assumptions. Previous democratization and modernization studies have rare ly included new technologi es in their research, and if they do, the research is usually focused on the Western and developed worldresearch on Internet and technology in the de veloping world is almost non-ex istent (Kalathil & Boas, 2003; Randolph & Banerjee, 2005; Wheeler, 2006). In their research of eight countries with au thoritarian governmentsChina, Cuba, Singapore, Vietnam, Burma, the United Arab Emirates, Sa udi Arabia, and EgyptKalathil and Boas (2003) argue that the Internet is not a threat to aut horitarian governments. In fact, through censorship, control, and intimidation, the Internet has been used to empower these regimes and reinforce their ideologies. Even though some uses do pose politi cal challenges, these cha llenges are minor and far from undermining the regimes in power. In studying Internet users in Kuwait, Wheeler (2006) says that Kuwaitis enjoy a distinctive Internet culture that is far from democratization, moneymaking and empowerment. Rather, it is a culture framed by the conservative nature of societ y, and the curiosity of it s people in experimenting

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19 with technology. While studying youths and women in Kuwait, Wheeler (2006) says Kuwaitis view the Internet as a social environment in which th ey can socialize across gender linessomething seen as taboo within culture and religion. They ch at with the opposite se x establishing virtual relationships, and sometimes real ones. But still, Wheeler says, strong ties to cultural values and traditions define long-term use. Even if experi mentation occurs, in the end many Kuwaitis adjust their Internet usage to be compatible with their up bringing and the norms and values of their society (p. 162). With regards to Islamists Internet practices, she realizes that conserva tive Islamists are an organized group with significant power in the countr y. Due to their vast public support, they have been successful in influencing Kuwaitis to re ject and undermine Western-style democracy and liberalism that is often promoted over the Internet. They have used the In ternet to achieve their goals of spreading Islamic awareness, organizing Islamic movements and influencing Kuwaiti Internet uses. While Wheeler (2006) and Kalathil and Boas (2003) argue that the Internet is not a threat to authoritarian regimes, they still acknowledge the power of the Inte rnet in politically challenging those regimes. But so many things have chan ged since Wheeler's study, which was conducted while the Internet was still new in the re gion. Recent statistics show that Internet usage in the Middle East has increased by 479.3 % from 2000 to 2006 (World St ats, 2006). In reaction to recent negative coverage centered on the Middle East, more and more Arabs are expressing their views online. Iraqis have held a number of democratic electio ns so far, Syria pulled out of Lebanon, and the Egyptian government showed leniency toward a pro-democracy group (A Cl ash of Cultures, 2006). Elsewhere in the Middle East, Kuwaiti women voted in their first elections and the new Saudi king is slowly trying to reform his country. As with Wheel er's idea of the Internet culture being shaped by geographic location and culture, time is also key in evolving that culture. According to Rogers (1995) diffusion of innovations th eory, diffusion is a process whereby an innovation is

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20 communicated over time with in social systems. So as time goes by, and as more people begin to adopt the Internet, surely user practices will be transformed. This transformation is what Rogers (1995) calls the consequences of innovations. Rogers says consequences can be desirable or undesirable. Desirable consequences are those that benefit the social system and the undesira ble ones are those that disinteg rate society. Rogers acknowledges that everyone in a society is a ffected by consequences of technol ogical innovationsrejectors of a new idea may be affected because an innovation benef its the other members of the system that adopt it, widening the socioeconomic gap over the rejectors (p. 412). According to the knowledge gap theory, As the infusion of mass media information in to a social system increases, segments of the population with higher socioec onomic status tend to acquire this info rmation at a faster rate than the lower status segments, so that th e gap in knowledge between these se gments tends to increase rather than decrease (Tichenor, Donohue & Olien, 19 70, p. 160-161). As noted earlier, Internet penetration in the Arab world is increasing rapidly, but this grow th can also have its effects by increasing the gap between the rich and the poor, a nd between the more edu cated and less educated. But according to Bonfadelli (2002), Tichenor Donohue and Oliens knowledge gap hypothesis cannot be fully applied to the Internet because of the issues of access and type of information provided. Bonfadelli says access to newspapers and television is usually spread evenly throughout a certain society. Economic and political factors, however, limit access to the Internet. Also, in traditional media, journalists or reporters presen t a fairly structured and homogenous supply of information. On the Internet, such homogeneity is not present. Rather the Internet has an unlimited, unstructured and heterogene ous supply of information. In comparison to the old media, use of the Internet requires a much more active and skilled user (Bonfadelli, 2002, p. 73). Bonfadelli says this extra need of skill to use the Internet will further widen the gap of knowledge and access between the educated and uneducated.

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21 In studying Internet users in Switzerland between 1997 and 2000, Bonfadelli found that the knowledge gap between those who do have access and those who dont widened. Furthermore, differences in uses between the educated and une ducated were obvious. The more educated users viewed the Internet as an information hub and an educational instrument wh ere as the less educated users used the Internet for entertainment purposes. Rogers (1995) says that conse quences of innovations can also be anticipated or unanticipated. Unanticipated consequences are those unintentional changes that arise from an innovation. Rogers presents an interesting example of that sort in talking about the adopti on of steel axes by an Australian aborigine tribe. For the Yir Yoronts, the stone ax was a symb ol of masculinity, power, and respect. It was a valuable commodity owne d only by men and acquired in exchange of spears while trading with other tribes. When the missi onaries introduced the much more efficient steel axes to the tribe, the Yir Yoront s had a hard time integrating th e new innovation with their cultural norms. As the adoption of the steel axes began to boo m, the status of stone ax owners disintegrated. As a result, elders were not respected as they were before, trade ties were broken and men began prostituting their daughters and wives in exchange fo r the use of someone elses steel ax. In this case, the adoption of an innovation, the steel ax, brought dramatic changes to the cultural norms of the Yir Yoronts, but will the Intern et pose a similar disruption to the Arab culture and the traditional seats of power? Whether political or cultural, the Internet doesnt pose a great threat to the Arab world, at least not in the short run, acco rding to Wheeler (2006) and Kalathil and Boas (2003). But as more people begin to adopt the innovation and as it becomes hard er to control online cont ent, many fear the loss of the Arab identity and the Islamic values amongst Arab youths. Internet gr owth in the Middle East has been very slow mainly due to cultural reasons which are discussed in de tail later. The strong Islamic conservative nature of Ar abs is preventing them from standi ng against the teac hings of their

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22 religion, but how much longer can this powerful cultural attachment last ? Political factors also play a big role in the slow adoption rate of the Intern et. Because of control, censorship, and intimidation by governments, Arabs fear to speak about what is in their minds, but, again, how much longer will this fear last? And how much longer can these g overnments regulate the Inte rnet? These questions are hard to answer at this point but as the Internet spreads across the Arab world, the unanticipated consequences of this inn ovation will certainly show up. Internet in the Arab World When studying communication and technology in the Arab world, most scholars have focused on the technology and ignored the Arab count ries, their histories, cu ltures, societies, and their human dimensions (Mamoun, 2000). Economic, political, and cultural differences in the region give each Arab country a unique identity, a nd it is almost unfair to group this diverse region of more than 20 countries into one homogenous enti ty. The main objective of this research was to showcase these differences through an alyzing political discussions in online forums from four Arab countries: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. Before going into the specifics of talking about each country separately, this secti on will give a brief outline of th e Internet culture in the Arab World. Wheelers 2001 statistics of Internet use in the Middle East and Nort h Africa (Arab countries) showed that Internet growth has been slower th an in any other part of the world, excluding subSaharan Africa. Some reasons behind this outcom e include the low investment rates in Internet projects and the inadequate in frastructure for developing an efficient information technology environment. Another big factor behind the low c onnectivity rates is the ra pid diffusion of mobile phones. Wheeler (2006) says that ce ll phones are more culturally compa tible with Arab cultures than the Internet is. Arabs are very attached to their friends and families, and the mobile phone has made it easier for them to communicate on a freque nt basis. Computer s on the other hand are

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23 viewed as word-processing devices more so than co mmunications tools. While e-mail is used as an easy form of communicating in the Western world, Arabs substitute e-mailing with text messaging. They see SMS as more reliable, quicker and chea per than buying a computer and connecting to the Internet. Recent statistics show that connec tivity in the oil-rich Gulf count ries is much more available than in other Arab countries. Economics has a ma jor influence on Internet connectivity. In rich countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, people can afford to buy a computer and subscribe to the Internet, but in poorer count ries such as Jordan, conn ecting to the Internet is not a priority. With a $2,326 per capita GDP Jordanians would much rather spend their money on food than on a computer (U.S. Department of State, 2006). Low literacy rates also add to the low connectivity in the region. Connection to the Internet needs some basic writing and reading skills, but in countries like Egypt where the illiteracy rate is just over 50% (U.S. Department of State, 2006), one may have a hard time finding meaning to the Internet. Culturally, the Arab world is a co llectivist society. People like to engage in group activities. Families watch television together, men go to ca fes to watch soccer games together, and women go shopping in groups. Connecting to the Internet, how ever, requires a computer and chair in a room a sense of isolation from the rest of the world that is incompatible with tradition. Also, because of extensive state control of media, Arabs tend to be less trusting toward media such as newspapers and television. Fear of being caught saying something considered illegal Arabs rely more on oral and unofficial means of communications in family gatherings, mosques and coffee shops. When speaking against the government may result in pr osecution, trust becomes a great issue. For that reason, Arabs do not trust the Internet, and prefer face-to-face communication w ith people they trust (Mamoun, 2000; Wheeler, 2006).

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24 Speaking of the Arab world as one entity has al so been a misrepresentation that many scholars fail to identify. Differences in ec onomic, cultural, and political norms influence Intern et connectivity and practices in Arab countries. Based on these so cietal differences, four fairly different Arab countries have been chosen for this research. Countries Kuwait Kuwait is one of the smallest countries in th e regionabout the size of New Jerseyyet, it is viewed as one of the most democratic. It is a constitutional hereditary monarchy ruled by descendents of the Al Sabah family. The legisla tive branch, however, is democratically elected by Kuwaitis over the age of 21members of the ru ling family and military personnel are excluded from voting. Previously, voting was a privilege gi ven only to men. Women r ecently got the right to vote, and experienced thei r first election in the summer of 20 06 (U.S. Department of State, 2006; Freedom House, 2006). Unlike other countries in the region, the legisl ature does exert its power over the executive branch. Although the Amir mainta ins the final word on most gove rnment policies, the National Assembly plays a real role in de cision making with powers to init iate legislation, question cabinet ministers, and express lack of c onfidence in individual ministers (U .S. Department of State, 2006). Even though Kuwait leads the Arab world in democracy, it still lags behind in human rights issues. Foreign workers are viewed as second cl ass citizens, and do not enjoy the freedoms and wealth of Kuwaiti nationals. Working hours are long and wages are very minimal. Also, many cases of physical and emotional abuses have been reported. A more prominent topic of discussion concerning human rights in Kuwait is the issue of Bidoon (without a nationality). Most of the Bidoons were born in Kuwait and lived their entire lives in the country. They speak the Arabic language, and look like Kuwaitis, but are not cons idered Kuwaitis because under Kuwait law,

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25 Kuwaiti citizenship is granted only to families w ho resided in the country before 1920. Because the Bidoons do not belong to any nationality, they usually dont have sufficient lega l work to grant them healthcare, education, and employme nt (Freedom House, 2006). Over the years, the Assembly had passed legislation to improve the Bidoons liv ing conditions, but Bidoons in Kuwait are still enduring unequal treatment. Recent Internet statistics from Internet Worl d Stats (2006) show that in terms of population percentages and Internet usage in the Middle East, Kuwait ranks third behind Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Wheeler (2006) presents three factors explaining the lively Kuwaiti Internet atmosphere. With regards to economics, Kuwait ha s one of the highest per capita incomes, meaning that people can afford to buy a computer and Inte rnet subscriptions. Culturally, Kuwaitis like to show off their social status by bei ng the first to own the latest trend. A be the first on your block to have the latest technolog ies attitude feeds Kuwaiti techno-c ulture and subsequently has made Kuwaitis anxious to get online" (Wheeler, 2006, p. 40). Finally, the government supports a technosavvy culture by allowing the sale of and access to high-tech devices. So with this amount of openness toward tec hnology adoption, why then is the Internet in Kuwait not used as a democratizi ng tool? Well, culture religion, economics, a nd politics all go hand in hand. Culturally, Kuwait is a conservative count ry in which most of the population practices the religion of Islam. Conservative Is lamists are an organized group with so much power in the country. Due to their vast public support, they have been successful in influencing Kuwaitis to reject and undermine Western-style democracy and libera lism that is promoted over the Internet. In Kuwait there is usually a clash between Is lamists and liberals on cultural issues. While Islamists want to hold tight to tradition and re ligion, the liberals encourage more openness toward entertainment and gender roles, and call for a more we sternized society. But in many political issues regarding democracy, liberals a nd conservatives work hand in hand against the government and

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26 government-supported members of the Assembly In recent electionsin which women experienced their first vote Islami sts and conservatives won 21 out of 50 seats. Liberals only won four. Other seats went to indepe ndents, tribal candidates, and government supported candidates (Al Watan, 2006). With regards to economics, oil wealth is dist ributed to the citizens th rough satisfying social services like free education and health care, gua ranteed government employment and an increased monthly allowance after marriage and after having a child. Kuwaitis do not pay any taxes, and the government subsidizes the cost of electricity, wate r and phone services. For the most part, Kuwaitis are economically fulfilled and are happy with the current political system. Democratization is viewed as risky, and might bring about unwanted change. Politically speaking, Kuwait is one of two count ries in the Middle East identified as having a partially free press (Freedom House, 2006). The only country with a free press in the region is Israel. Kuwaitis can criticize the government, sp eak up, and organize a demonstration, but still, Kuwait has strict press laws that limit the critici sm of the president a nd the Islamic religion. Journalists or authors who dont abide by these rules often face prosecution, imprisonment, and social embarrassment. For that reason, self-cen sorship is very common among journalists and the public. Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia is a hereditary monarchy where th e king is the head of state and government. The 27 million Saudis do not vote, and political pa rties are illegal. The country is governed according to Islamic law (Shariah) and the Quran is considered to be the constitution (Quick, 2003; U.S. Department of State, 2006). With the king being at the top of the monarchy, one might think that he has complete control over his country. It is true in so me cases, but many times the kings powers are limited because he must abide by the Shar iah and Saudi tradition. He also must get the

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27 consent of the ruling family and the Ulema, the Is lamic scholars who are wi dely respected in the country (U.S. Department of State, 2006). Sa udi Arabia has strict press laws enabling the government to interferevia prosecution, imprison ment, and license removalwhen criticisms about the ruling family, Islam or other allied states occur. In Saudi Arabia, the printing press is presumably privately owned, but the government appoi nts the editor in chief of each newspaper, and has the right to veto any candidate running for the board of directors in a newspaper company (Quick, 2003). The press and other media are owned by people who have interests based in maintaining the status quo for economic and politic al reasonsdue especially to the way in which they are licensed and chosen by the governmentand therefore are un likely to go against desires in general (Quick, 2003, p. 803). As in Kuwait, public consent toward the king s rule is widely seen across the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producer in the worl d, and most of oil wealth is distributed to the people. Saudis pay no taxes and the government provi des social services such as subsidies for food, utilities and other basic goods. There are, howev er, some dissident groups amongst the Saudis. On one side there are the liberals, w ho include human rights activists, feminists and anti-Islamists, and on the other side are the radical Islamists who believe the kingdom is corrupt and Islamic law is not fully followed. While Saudi Arabia established its first Internet connection in 1994, public access wasnt granted until 1999Saudi Arabia wa s the last country in the Arab ian Peninsula to allow public access (Kalathil & Boas, 2003). The Saudi government thought the Inte rnet might have a long-term impact on the stability in the regi on, so they took a more cautious approach and decided to study the idea thoroughly before launching it. The government of Saudi Arabia is believed to have the strictest and most extensive Internet censorship practices in the world. Kalathil & Boas (2003) explain:

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28 While other regimes often maintain that thei r sole motivation is the blocking of pornography, Saudi Arabias stated concerns are broader. It openly e ndeavors to block information it considers both socially and po litically inappropriate includi ng pornography, criticism of the royal family, and material considered offensive to Islam. (p. 115) As more and more people connect to the Internet Kalathil and Boas (2003) believe that this technology has the potential of exerting some political impact. There are some dissident groups operating from outside the count ry, but they pose very little threat to the countrys political stability. Most of this political impact identified by Kalathil and Boas, however, is positive. The state uses the Internet as a promotional campaign to counter overs eas Islamic critics. Al so, satisfaction with the government is likely to increas e as the country moves forward in implementing e-government government services online. But there could be some unintended consequences from an electronic government system; for example, increased tran sparency might expose government corruption. Corruption in the royal family is a rallying point for critics of the regime and one of the major grievances of Saudi Arabias most influent ial dissident groups (Kalathil & Boas, 2003, p. 117). Privatization in Saudi Arabia has previously not been advocated by the government, but because of the increasing unemployment rates, the c ountry was forced to amplify its private sector. Privatization might be viewed as a democratizing opening in the syst em, but it is certainly far from that. Business people show great loyalty to th e regime as they are dependent on government licenses, contracts and subsidies. Kalathil and Boas (2003) say the online and Internet businesses are growing in the region and are a good source of employment. Egypt Home of the pyramids and the Nile River, E gypt stands out as one unique country in the Middle East. With a population of more than 70 million (U.S. Department of State, 2006), Egypt has gone through several political and economical transformations. Previously, Egypt was a monarchy under British rule. After Egypt gained its independence in 1922, British influence was still dominant in politics, economics, and culture. Appalled by the system, the Egyptian army led by

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29 Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the king in 1952. The constitution was abrogated, Egypt was declared a republic and Nasser became presiden t. Many people viewed Nassers policies as oppressive, but his charisma in pr omoting Arab nationalism made him one of the most recognized leaders in Arab history. He nationalized the ec onomy and media, and th reatened any sort of opposition. His successor, Anwar el-Sadat, was less oppressive as he introduced greater political freedoms by allowing organized pa rties and encouraged privatiza tion by relaxing controls over the economy. Under Hosni Mubarak, the current pr esident of Egypt, poli tical and economical restrictions were loosened even more. Egypt is supposedly a democracy where the executive and legislative bodies are democratic ally elected. But through rigged elections, media control, and threatening the opposition, the National Democratic Party has been in powe r since the coup detat (U.S. Department of State, 2006; Quick, 2003; Amin, 2003; Kalathil & Boas, 2003). Freedom House (2006) defines the status of th e media in Egypt as not free. Even though political parties are allowed to print publications, th e press laws in Egypt are oppressive and intimidating. Newspapers are always subject to censorship, and any publication viewed as offensive to the government or president might result in pros ecution or imprisonment. Incidents of violence against and harassment of journa lists are also common. According to Freedom House (2006), more than 50 Egyptian journalists said that security an d police officers beat them, detained them, and confiscated their cameras while reporting voter irregularities in par liamentary elections. But surprisingly enough, the Egyptian government has taken a slightly benevolent approach with the Interneta cen sorship-free zone (Kalathil & Boas 2003, p. 120). The government has taken great initiative in promoti ng Internet use in Egypt by expa nding access and training in rural areas. It has also made it clear th at it has no intentions to control or censor content over the Internet. The Cyprus Times and the Middle East Times both published their full content online in which previously censored articles from the print editio ns were available (Kalathil & Boas, 2003). But

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30 still, the government was able to crackdown on people who posted co ntroversial material online. According to Freedom House (2006), on October 26, plainclothes security agents arrested Alexandrian student of Islamic law and blogger Abd al-Karim Suleim an and detained him without charge for 18 days. Also, in November of 2001, the Webmaster of a weekly paper was arrested for posting a poem expressing frustration with the government (Kalathil & Boas, 2003). These and many similar incidents have intimidated online user s, and as a result, many are practicing selfcensorship to escape from prosecution. Even though oppositional political parties are allowed to publish newspapers and create Websites, the Egyptian government is still as powerfu l as ever and is unthreatened by the dissident groups. With newspapers and the Internet, being able to read and write are very important, but Egypt has a literacy rate of 58% (U.S. Department of State, 2006). Mamoun (2000) says: Central to the disjunc tion between the partys newspaper an d the larger society may be the absence of trust and the fact th e idiom of the modern opposition in Egypt is that of the written word, standard Arabic, while the target constitu ency of the opposition operates in the domains of illiteracy, orality and the vernacular. Television and radio are much more prevalent an d powerful than the Internet in Egypt, and the government has great control ov er the broadcast system. Th rough propaganda transmitted via television and radio, the government ha s been able to gain public suppo rt and scrutinize efforts from the opposition parties (Amin, 2003). Jordan Jordan is in a constant struggl e to please everyone surrounding it. Being a U.S. and British ally since its inception, and being home for millions of Palestinian refugees, Jordan has drawn the criticism of Arabs for its image as a peacekeeper between the Arab stat es and Israel. Jordan gained its independence from British rule in 1946, and the king, appointed by the British, remained in power. In 1967 Jordan allied with Egypt, Syria and Iraq in combating Isra el over the West Bank. The Arab forces lost the war, and Palestine came under Israeli rule. After the war, however, more

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31 than a million Palestinian refugees fled to Jord an, where the government granted them citizenship. Today, there are more Palestinians living in Jordan than there are Jordania ns (U.S. Department of State, 2006). Jordan is a constitutional monarchy where the legislative power rests in a bicameral National Assembly. The Chamber of Deputies is democr atically elected whereas Senate members are appointed by the king (U.S. Department of Stat e, 2006; Dajani, 2003; Quick, 2003). Activists of Palestinian origin took advantag e of the free Jordania n parliamentary election in 1950 and made gains that allowed them to join the government (Dajani, 2003, p. 310). In Jordan, the clash is usually between original Jordan ian citizens and Pales tinian refugees. The government tries to stabilize the country by bringing both groups toge ther. Trying to establish peace in the region, Jordan has made treaties with the United States and Israel over Palestinian territoriesactions that angered the greater Arab public and that were viewed contradictory to the cause of Arab unity. Trying to establish a respectful im age within the country and in the rest of the world, Jordan through strict censorship and prosecuti ons of journalistswas able to us e the media to its advantage. Freedom House (2006) also rates Jordans freedom of the press as not free. The most significant aspect of its media system is the Jordan Press Association in which all journalists have to be members to work legally. The press association is a government agency, a nd without a membership, journalists are forbidden to work. Recently, th ough, King Abdullah II promoted a more open press saying that Jordan should be more transparent to the world because his count ry has nothing to hide (Quick, 2003). But even with thes e reforms, editors and journalists say that they have been warned by officials to refrain from pub lishing material against the government (Freedom House, 2006). There has been little research done on the Internets role in Jordan. Wheeler (2006) briefly talks about Jordan, saying that economic factor s are the primary factor s behind low connectivity rates in the country. The average monthly salary of a government employee in Jordan is 50 dinars,

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32 which is equivalent to $70. Wheel er (2006) says an hour at an In ternet caf, the most common way to access the Internet in Jordan, would cost more than two dollars. The same one-hour fee for Internet use could easily buy a family of five lunches at a falafe l restaurant (Wheeler, 2006, p. 37). According to Freedom House (2006), the Jordania n government is actively promoting Internet access and claims it has no intentions to censor the Web. But Freedom House (2006) states that the Center for Defending Freedom of Jo urnalists, a domestic media righ ts organization, concluded that 42.7% of media professionals believe Internet sites were censored in 2005. Table 3-1 provides some of the basic differences between th e countries selected for this st udy. This used data from the U.S. Department of State and the the World Fact Book.

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33 Table 2-1. Profiles of the countries selected Saudi Arabia Kuwait Egypt Jordan Area 784, 2333 sq. mi. (more than one fifth the size of America) 6,880 sq. mi. (smaller than New Jersey) 386,000 sq. mi. (about the size of Texas) 34,495 sq. mi. Population 27 million 5.6 million are foreigners 2.4 million 1.3 million of which are non Kuwaitis 78.9 million 5.9 million more than 60% are from Palestinian decent Religion Islam close to 100% Islam 85% (Sunni 70% Shiites 30%) other religions include Christianity, Hindu, and Parsi 90% Muslim (mostly Sunni) 9% Coptic, 1% other Christian Sunni Muslims 92%, Christian 6% Other (Shiite and other Islamic sect) 2% Literacy 78.8% of the population can read and write 83.5% 57.7% 91.3% Economy Possesses 25% of the world's oil reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. GDP per capita is $13,800 Produces 10 % of worlds oil reserves and GDP per capita is $21,600 GDP per capita is $4,200. Most economic activities take place in the agriculture industry because of the fertile land the Nile has brought Insufficient supplies of water, oil and other natural resources. Poverty, unemployment, and inflation are major problems. GDP per capita is $2,300 (2005) Media (Freedom House 2006) Not free Partially free Not free Not free Internet Users 3.2 million, 11.9% of population (2006) 700,000, 29.1 % (2005) 5 million, 6.3% (2005) 629,500, 10.7% (2005)

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34 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Population The research conducted was a content analysis of political discussions from four separate Arab online forums, each one focused on a different count ry: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. Online forums are message or bulletin boards that take the form of extended conversations on Web sites. When they work, forums create a symbiotic relationship that enhances a sites profile and serves users by providing a place to debate, pontificate, socialize and express emotion (Palser, 2002, p. 58). Forums were specifically used for this study because of their acceptance by the Arab online population. They are widely used for online di scussions, and unlike blogs, forums have been present and in use for a long time in the region. More important, forums were studied because no research about them and their uses in the Middle East was found, despite the fact that their use is prevalent among Arab Internet users. With a growi ng global interest in the fu ture of the Arab world, it was inferred that studying the poli tical opinions of Arab Internet us ers, via their self-expression in online forums, may yield new information about the region and its people. There were plenty of Arabic-l anguage forums to choose from, but the goal was to identify and study the most popular general forum from each countr y. A general forum is basically one that is not slanted toward a specific area of interest, but rather, has a diverse arena of topics under discussion. A general forum is also one that is neutral and not affiliate d with any political or religious ideologies. General forums were select ed because, unlike interest or ideology-oriented forums, their users represent the di versity within every country. The selection process was difficult because no sear ch engine or database that ranks forums based on popularity or authority coul d be found. Three steps were ther efore used for the selection. The first step was to identify forums from each country. Using Google, searches of Arabic phrases, which translated to Kuwaiti forums, Egyptian fo rums, Jordanian forums, and Saudi Arabian

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35 forums were conducted. Forums from each country were found. The second step was to determine the most popular forum from each of the four lists. Informal interviews with four to five natives of the selected countries were conducte d. Most of the interviewees we re males studying in America. The interviewees were asked to identify the mo st popular forum from the list provided. The Jordanians interviewed almost unanimously agreed on the most prevalent onlin e forum in their home country. The Saudis had one common answer, but it was later determined that the forum identified was not Saudi, but an Arab forum with mostly Saudi users. A second forum was determined to be the most popular under the original criteria. E gyptians and Kuwaitis, however, had mixed opinions, so a third step was used to finalize the selection. By looking at the total nu mber of members and the number of posts in each forum, and also comp aring each forums traffic ranking from the Alexa database (http://alexa.com/), a decision was ma de, and the selection process was completed. The four forums selected for this study are as follows: Sahat KSA, Saudi Arabia Web link: (www.sahatksa.com) Forums topic of interest: Gene ral, includes Saudi history, Isla mic discussions, technology and poetry Number of topics on political discussion cate gory to date (November 28, 2006): 7,033. This number represents all the discus sions in the political category Number of comments and posts on the political discussion board: 40,154 There is no information about the objectives of this forum or about the organization that runs it. It serves a variety of intere sts, but one thing noti ced was that the forums first three discussion categories dealt with the religion of Islam. The first is called the Islamic forum, the second has Islamic multimedia and the third is a Q and A foru m where users can ask religious questions and get answers. Egypt Sons, Egypt Web link: (www.egyptsons.com/misr/) Forums topic of interest: General Number of topics on political discussi on board to date (November 28, 2006): 4,980

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36 Number of comments and posts on the political discussion board: 35,599 Like the Saudi forum listed above, information about the people who run the site was not available. But looking at the site there are four main pages: the forum, a page about Islam, an online magazine, and a photo gallery. There are al so other sections such as an online gaming page and a page containing programs and software for mobile phones. The Website serves many purposes for Egyptians and a specific objectiv e of this site could not be identified. Abu Mahjoob, Jordan Web link: (www.mahjoob.com/ar/forums/index.php ) Forums topic of interest: General Number of topics on political discussi on board to date (November 28, 2006): 2,995 Number of comments and posts on the political discussion board: 32,012 Abu Mahjoob is a famous comic character that appears in one of the most popular daily newspapers in Jordan, Al Ghad Abu Mahjoob translates to the father of the hidden, and the producers of this comic strip usually showcase the ch aracter within a political scheme and make him reveal so much by trying to hide it (Abu Mahj oob, 2006). The producers of this comic character decided to create this site, which pos ts and archives the comic strip. The site also has a forum with a wide variety of topics under discussion. Al Ommah, Kuwait Web link: (http://www.alommah.org/home/) Forums topic of interest: Political, mainly concerned with parliament Number of topics on political discussi on board to date (February 25, 2007): 2,078 Number of comments and posts on the political discussion board: 20,356 The forum from Kuwait is different from the ot her forums studied. After a long selection process, one general forum called Kuwait Max was fi rst chosen for the study. After the pilot study, however, it was realized that the fo rum did not reflect the many critical political issues that occurred in 2006. Some of these issues include the death of the Amir and the inaugur ation of a new one amid a major split within the ruling family, and the Amirs decree to dissolve the parliament and call for

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37 elections a month later, in which Kuwaiti women voted for the first time. Also, the number of topics in the political category on Kuwait Max was very small. It was therefore determined that for the purpose of increasing the relevance of this study, Al-Ommah forum w ould be used for the research, even though it is politically oriented. Al-Ommah is basically a Kuwaiti news Web site run by a group of young Kuwaitis. The news presented is main ly about parliament and parliament members. There are also a large number of opinion pieces wr itten by Kuwaiti youth. The news site also has a forum, which was used for this study. Sample Before discussing the sample and the sampling pr ocess, it is important to clarify and identify the different sections of a forum. It is a twostep process, and diagrams are provided. The first diagram (Figure 3-1) is the foru ms homepage, which lists all the categories available for discussion in the Egypt Sons forum. Five cat egories are listed: (1) serious di scussion category, (2) relationship category, (3) general category, (4) Islamic cate gory, and (5) political category. Each category contains numerous topics, which are also called threads. For this research, only the political category was studied. The diagram also shows th e most recent topic discussed, which acts as an alert for users who want to know whether or not a new topic is being discus sed. The total number of threads and comments for each category can also be id entified. In terms of the political category in Egypt Sons, there were 5,309 threads and 37,691 tota l comments at the time Figure 2-1 was made. This information was used in answering the fi rst research question, wh ich will appear later. The second part of the forum is the category page (Figure 3-2), which lists all the topics or threads in that specific category. The diagram below is an illust ration from Egypt Sons political category Web page. The initial plan was to look at 250 discussi ons from each forum tota ling 1,000 discussions. Because the Internet is still evol ving in the Arab world, the study focused on discussions posted in

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38 the year 2006. The research wa s conducted using a stra tified sample with a random start. For the sample, the lists of all threads found in the politi cal categories (Figure 3-2) of each forum during 2006 were first printed. The total number of threads from 2006 were counted, and that number was then divided by 250 to determine the sampling count. For example, the total number of threads in the political category of the Jord anian forum in 2006 was 2,148. Di viding 2,148 by 250 resulted in a count of 8.6 which meant that after the first samp le discussion was randomly selected, the next sample discussion was the eighth one following. It wa s also decided that the topics in the sample must have at least two comments. This was becau se topics with one comment or no comments meant that they did not attract forum users and were considered insignificant to this study. When the sampling method fell on a discussion with fewer than two comments, the first discussion with two or more comments following the one selected by th e sampling method was used. After the samples were identified, the collection proces s began. It was concluded that th e sample would be saved as an HTML file rather than printing it because of time and financial constraints. During the collection process the sample si ze decreased from 1,000 to 960. The Jordanian forum surprisingly deleted all the topics in the politi cal category which appear ed during the first two months of 2006. The sample size for the Jordania n forum was therefore 212 instead of 250. Also, two threads, one from Sahat KSA and one from Al Ommah, could not be located when the samples were being saved. They could have been deleted or could have move d to other locations. Table 3-1 shows the sample size from each forum Units of Analysis RQ1: How Interested Are Arab Internet Users in Politics? The study specifically focused on general foru ms, not political ones, to find out how interested ordinary Arabs are in politics. As a result, the number of discussions and comments in the political category was compared with the numbe r of discussions and comments in all other

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39 categories of each forum. A diagram of a secti on from the Abu Mahjoob forum is shown to help better understand this part of the methodology (Figure 3-3). This diagram is similar to Figure 3-1 from the Egypt Sons forum shown previously. It shows the locations of the needed fields for the methodology: the different categories, the number of discussions from each category and the number of posts from each discussion board. RQ2: What Were the Topics of Discussion? The objective was to discover what Arabs were talking about and what interests them politically. Because the research sp ecifically looked at political di scussions on general Arab forums, most of the topics were expected to be politically oriented. But politics is hard to defineit is multidimensional and has many meanings. To better answer this research question, a number of issues were listed and then categorized into four main groups: politics, so cial issues, religion and nations. The topics chosen to be coded were determined using two criteria: relevance and occurrence. Some issues lik e government, Islam and local issues were believed to be relevant within the political and/or cu ltural sphere. Other issues like media and war were added to the list because of their frequent occurrences in posts, determined duri ng the pilot study. Table 3-2 lists the topics analyzed in the study. The threads were carefully read and coded for the main issues discussed. A coding guide that describes how each thread was coded based on th e issues listed is provided (Appendix B). The objective here was to see what were the most dom inant topics and issues discussed across all the forums and within each specific forum. RQ3: How Were Human Subjects Framed? As a group: All Arabs, Americans, Jews, etc. As individuals: I, Bush, Osama Bin Laden, the president, etc. Mixed Unknown

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40 The main idea behind this research question was to see how Arabs reacted to different topics. Did they generalize when they talked about forei gn issues and become speci fic when they discussed local concerns? Or was it the other way around? RQ4: What Was the Tone of the Original Post? By reading the original posts and analyzi ng the words used, the tone of each post was identified: Positive Negative Neutral Mixed It should be clarified that this part of the st udy analyzed the tone of th e language used and did not pass judgment on the content. Any words of praise and encouragement were considered positive, and the use of words with a pessimistic connotation was coded as ne gative. Examples are shown below: Positive: Abu Mahjoob, posted on December 8, 2006. In this post, the forum user wrote about how the government of Qatar donated $22 million to the Palestinians in the form of teacher salaries and building a sports complex for future Palestinian athletes. In that post, the user used terms of approval about the Qatari government. Negative: From Egypt Sons, posted on November 16, 2006. Just by readi ng the title, the tone of the post was easily determined. The titles Eng lish translation is Iran and its dirty daily war on Iraqi citizens, why? The word dirty is what determined the tone of the post. If the word was eliminated, then the tone mi ght have been neutral. Neutral: From Abu Mahjoob, posted on December 3, 2006. The post had a comic picture of a Lebanese politician, Walid Joumblat. The forum us er just posted a question asking other users what they thought of this political figu re. Another example is from Sa hat KSA, posted on November 26, 2006. The forum user posted an article about the Saudi governments efforts in opening doors for

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41 women to work in diplomatic institutions. The arti cle in itself may be considered positive, but the forum user didnt express an opinion. The two exam ples here show that a neutral discussion can be in the form of a question or in the form of an article from a ne ws agency posted without any opinion added to it. Mixed: From Egypt Sons, posted April 24, 2006. In this post, the forum member talked about how the Nepali people were demonstrating to ove rthrow their countrys dictator. The writer applauded their efforts for reform and at the same time wondered how there was no mention of this event in any Egyptian news media. He talked negatively about the Egyptian media and government and wondered when the Egyptians will rise the same way the Nepali people did. RQ5: How Did Forum Users React to the Original Post? The number of comments (people responded to th e post) and the number of views (people who read or viewed the post but didnt respond) was firs t recorded. The comments were then coded for the following: Agree Disagree Adding information Out of context The number of comments on any single post ra nged from 2 to more than 100, so it was determined that for threads with more than 10 comments, only the first 10 would be coded. The main reason behind this decision is that in threads with more than 10 comments, the discussion usually transgressed from responding to the or iginal post and new disc ussions usually began. Comments were read and determined to either agree or disagree. If they did neither, then it was determined that they should be coded for either adding information or being out of context (off topic). Adding information meant that the user a dded and updated information or stated facts rather than express an opinion. This usually happened wh en the original post was a question or when the post was a neutral news article.

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42 After the coding process was over, the data co llected were entered into SPSS and tested for significance. Pilot Study A pilot study was conducted before the initial research started. The pilot study had two main objectives. The first was to come up with the right list of topics to be coded. As mentioned above, the issues chosen for this study we re determined using two criteria: relevance and occurrence. Some issues like government, Islam and local were believe d to be relevant within the political scheme. Other issues like media and war were added to the list because of thei r continuous appearances during the pilot study. The second objective behi nd the pilot study was to generate the most adequate coding sheet. After se veral trials, changes were made, and the coding sheet was finalized. A copy of the coding sheet is provided (Appendix A). Inter-Coder Reliability Inter-coder reliability analysis was used to test the consistency and rele vance of the research and the coding process. Ten percent of the sample was selected and coded by the main researcher and one Arabspeaking University of Florida doct oral student from the department of nuclear engineering. The consistency and inconsistency of the coding decisions were assessed. Using Holstis formula (1969), the intercoder coefficient was 0.92, certifying a high level of agreement between the two coders and confirming the validity of the coding process.

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43 Figure 3-1. Front page of Egypt Sons forum Figure 3-2. List of topics w ithin a category of a forum

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44 Figure 3-3. Number of thr eads and comments for each category within a forum Table 3-1. Sample size from each forum Forum Sample: N Al Ommah 249 Sahat KSA 249 Abu Mahjoob 212 Egypt Sons 250 Table 3-2. Topics analyzed in the study Politics Social Issues Religion Nations Government Elected Officials Laws Elections Ideology War Economy Media Healthcare Education Minorities Marriage Women Crime Other Islam Sunni Shiite Shariah and scholars Christianity Judaism Other religions Local* Iraq Palestine Lebanon Iran U.S.A Israel All Arab Other Arab Other non Arab Local in each case referred to the country of the forum. Thus for the Jordanian forum, references to Jordan were coded as local, while for the Kuwaiti forum, reference to Jordan were coded as other Arab.

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45 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS RQ1: How Interested Are Arab Internet Users in Politics? In all forums, the political category was within the top three categories for number of discussions. In the Saudi (N=7,583, 30.6%) and Kuwaiti (N = 2,067, 52%) forums, the political category was the most popular, meaning it had the most discussions of any category in that forum. The political category in the Egyptian forum had the second highest number of discussions (N=5,295, 9%), and in the Jordanian forum it had the third highest number of discussions (N = 3,012, 6.5%). Saudi Arabia: Sahat KSA Out of the 25 categories in the Sahat KSA fo rum, the political category, overwhelmingly, had the highest number of threads (N =7,583) at the time of data colle ctionit consisted of 30.6 percent of the total number of threads. The open dialogu e category had the second highest number of topics discussed (N=5,159), and the Islamic category had the third (N=2,875). Table 4-1 shows the list of all categories in the Sahat KSA forum. Egypt: Egypt Sons Of the four forums, Egypt had the greatest numbe r of categories and threads: 32 categories and 58,964 total threads. Unlike the Saud i forum, the political category consisted of only 9 percent of the total threads (N= 5,295), and was ranked second behind the Islamic category, which had 15 percent of the total topics disc ussed (N=8,899). The general forum had the third highest number of threads (N=4,444, 7.5%). See Table 42 for a list of all categories from the Egypt Sons forum. Jordan: Abu-Mahjoob Out of the 23 total categor ies, the political catego ry (N=3,012) in the Jordanian forum came in third, with 6.5 percent of the tota l number of topics discussed. Surprisingly, the poetry category (N=6,465) was second, with 13.9 per cent of the total th reads. The gene ral category (N=13,961,

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46 30%) had the highest number of threads. Table 43 shows the list of all categories from the AbuMahjoob forum. Kuwait: Al Ommah As noted earlier, the Kuwaiti forum is different from the other forums in that it is more political than it is general. It is of no surprise that the political categor y had the highest number of threads (N=2,067). In the Kuwaiti forum, the two categories, local politics (N=1,668) and international politics (N=399), were both used in th e study. See Table 4-4 for th e list of categories in the Al-Ommah forum. RQ2: What Were the Topics of Discussion? Overall Government appeared in more than half of the sample making it the most discussed topic overall (N=549, 57%). Ideology came in second and was seen in 25.8 percent of the total cases analyzed (N=248). Ideological or political groups lik e Hezbollah, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda were frequently discussed and were all coded as ideology. War (N=208, 21.7%), Islam (N=116, 12.1%) and elected officials (N=111, 11.6%) round off the top five most discussed topics. Social issues like educati on (N=35, 3.6%), crime (N=30, 3.1%), status of women (N=19, 2%), and healthca re (N=15, 1.6%) were not talked about substantially. Other fairly common topics included media (N=97, 10.1%), economy (N= 93, 9.7%), and elections (N=63, 6.6%). Table 4-5 lists the frequencies, in pe rcentages, of the topi cs discussed across all forums For the countries or nations discussed, more than half of the topics concentrated on local issues (N=467, 57.2%). Israel (N=157, 16.4%), Pal estine (N=138, 14.4%), and Lebanon (N=133, 13.9%) followed. U.S.A. (N=132, 13.8%) was four th. Surprisingly, Iraq (N=63, 6.6%) and

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47 Iran (N=59, 6.1%) were disc ussed the least. See Ta ble 4-6 for the frequencies, in percentages, of the countries discussed across all forums. Within Forums Cross-tabulations with Pearsons Chi-square co efficients were used to study the statistical significance of relationships and interactions between the forum and the topic variables. Many topics showed strong significance levels, and some of these significant correlations are explored below. Political issues Six out of the seven political topics showed significant correl ations within the different forums. Out of the 549 times discussions on government, Egypt (N=163, 29.7%) had the highest number of mentions (X=(3 ,N=960)=24.316, p=.000). From the 111 times elected officials (X=(3, N =960)=121.652, p =.000) and the 58 times elections (X=(3, N=960)=44.753, p=.000) were mentioned, Kuwait had the highest share of mentions with 67.6 percent of elected officials and 60.3 percent of elections in rela tion with the other three forums Within the 248 times ideology was coded, Jordan (N=76, 30.6%) had th e largest share of appearances (X=(3, N=960)=14.450, p=.002). War was coded 208 times, in which Jord an (N=83, 39.9%) and Egypt (N=61, 29.3%) had the most mentions (X=(3, N=960)=62.844, p=.000). For the 93 discussions on economy, Kuwait (N=39) had the largest share w ith 41.9 percent followed by Saudi Arabia (N=30) with 32.3 percent (X=(3, N=960)=24.010, p=.000). Figures 4-1 through 4-12 show cr oss-tabulations with Pearsons Chi-square coefficients for the relationships betw een the political issues and the four forums. Social issues Only three of the eight social issues coded showed levels of signi ficance within the four forums. Media was coded 97 times, with Saudi Arabia (N=40, 41.2%) having the most number of mentions (41.2%) (X=(3, N=960)=19.536, p=.000) Crime (X=(3, N=960)=16.008, p=.001)

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48 and minorities (X=(3, N=960)=10.902, p=.012) also showed levels of significance, but both topics were not coded as frequen tly as others. Of the 30 total a ppearances of crime, Saudi Arabia (N=16, 30%) had the largest share of mentions. For minorities (N=18), Kuwait (N=9, 50%) and Saudi Arabia (N=7, 38.9%) had the most share of mentions. Figures 4-13 through 4-18 show crosstabulations with Pearsons Chi-squa re coefficients for the relationships between the political issues and the four forums. Religious issues For the seven religious issues coded, five showed levels of significance. Islam (X=(3, N=960)=81.316, p=.000) appeared more than half of the times in the Saudi forum (N=67, 57.8%). The Saudi Arabian forum also had the mo st share of mentions of the Sunni (X=(3, N=960)=8.106, p=.044) and the Shariah (X=(3, N=960)=15.975, p=.001) topics. Of the 56 times Shiites was coded, Saudi Arabia (N= 25, 446.6%) still had the most share, and Kuwait (N=17, 30.4%) was close with the second most mentions (X=(3, N=960)=15.107, p=.002) For topics about Christianit y, Egypt had the most number of appearances (X=(3, N=960)=8.501, p=.037) Figures 4-19 through 4-28 show cross-tabulations with Pearso ns Chi-square coefficients for the relationships between the religi ous issues and the four forums. Nations Out of the ten nations variable s coded, eight showed levels of significance. Of the 249 total discussions analyzed from the Kuwaiti forum, 73.5 we re concerned with local issues (N=183). For Egypt it was 54.4 percent (N=136). Th ese results show that more than half the discussions in the Egyptian and Kuwaiti were about local matters. Saudi Arabia (N=119, 47.8% within forum) also had a large numberclose to half of discussion dealing with local issues (X=(3, N=960)=168.685, p=.00). When compared to the other forums, Jordan had a very small number of discussions about local issues (N 29, 13.7% within forum). Jordan, however, had the greatest sh ares of mentions for Israel (43.3%), Lebanon (33.8%) and Palestine (67.4%). For the132 times th e U.S.A. was coded, Saudi Arabia (N=44, 33.3%)

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49 had the highest number mentions followed by Egypt S ons (N=42, 31.8%). Kuwait (N=14, 10.6%), however, had the least number of U.S. A. mentions (X=(3, N=960)=19.381, p=.000) For the all Arab variable (X=(3, N=960)=48.979, p=.000) Jordan (45%) had the most share of mentions, and Kuwait (4%) had the least (X=(3, N=960)=48.979, p=.000) For other Arab (X=(3, N=960)=28.900, p=.000) and other nonArab (X=(3, N=960)=17.807, p=.000) Saudi Arabia had the largest share of appearances of both variables. Figures 4-29 through 4-44 show cr oss-tabulations with Pearsons Chi-square coefficients for the relationships between the religious issues and the four forums. Figure 4-29, which deals with local issues is different than the other figures. In this figure, data ar e presented in both column and row formats. Because both Egypt and Kuwait had local issues coded in more than half of the discussions, it was concluded that this table presents the results in a more adequate manner RQ3: How Were Human Subjects Framed? Overall Out of the 960 samples coded, 40.8 percent of the discussions framed human as a group (N=392), whereas 30.7 percent framed people as individuals (N=295). Human subjects were referred to in both group and individual forms in 17.8 percent of the total sa mple (N=171), and 10. 6 percent of the cases did not have any mention of humans (N=102). Table 4-7 lists the frequencies of human subject framing. Within Forums Cross-tabulations with P earsons Chi-square coefficients we re used to study the statistical significance of relationships and in teractions between the forums a nd framing of human subjects. Of the 392 times human subjects were framed as a group, Saudi Arabia led the forums in that category (N= 108, 27.6%). But the other forums we re not far behind with Egypt in second place (N=99, 25.3%), and Jordan (N=91, 23.2%) and Ku wait (N=94, 24%) following. For framing humans as individuals, there were differences w ithin forums. Kuwait users referred to human subjects as individuals the most (N=102, 34.6%). The Egyptian forum users followed (N=67,

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50 22.7%). For mixed framing, the Egyptian forum ha d the most number of discussion with humans being framed in both group and individual manner (N=53, 31%). Figures 4-45 & 4-46 show crosstabulations with Pearsons Chi-s quare coefficients for the relati onships between framing of human subjects and the four forums. RQ4: What Was the Tone of the Original Post? Overall More than 80 percent of the topics analyzed were coded as having either a negative (N=432, 45%) or a neutral (N=389, 40.5%) t one. Topics with a positive tone (N=88) comprised only 9.2 percent of the total sample and 5.3 percent of the topics had a mi xed tone (N=51). Table 4-8 shows the frequencies and percentage s of the tone of the origin al posts across all forums. Cross-tabulations with P earsons Chi-square coefficients we re used to study the statistical significance of relationships and in teractions between the topics on all forums and the tone of discussions. Seven topics were found to be statistically significan t: government, war, Islam, Sunni, Shiites, U.S.A., and all Arab. For government (N=549), the majority of th e discussions used a negative tone (49%, N=269) and 37 percent (205) a neutral tone. Only 7.1 percent (N=39) were positive and 6.6 (N=36) percent of the discussions used a mixed tone (X=(3, N=960)=17.449, p=.001). Of the 208 discussions on war, 47.6 percent (N=99) were coded as nega tive, and 33.7 percent (N=70) were neutral (X=(3, N=960)=8.154, p=.043). Islam also showed similar results with 43.1 percent (N=50) of the discussions being negative and 37.9 per cent (N=13) were neutral (X=(3, N=960)=9.238, p=.026) For Sunni (N=24), 50 percent (N=12) of the discussions carried a neutra l tone whereas 33.3 percent (N=8) of the discussions carried a negative one (X=(3, N=960)=9.520, p=.023) No positive tones were seen in discussions about Sunnis. More the half of the discussions on Shiit es carried were coded as negative (N=32, 57.1%). Similar to Sunni, none of the discussions on Shiite had a positive tone (X=(3, N=960)=11.696, p=.008) More than half of the discussions on the U.S.A. al so carried negative a tone (N=76, 57.6). U.S.A.

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51 discussions with a neutral tone comprised 35.6 percen t (N=47), and only 1.5 (N=2) percent of discussions about The United States carried a positive tone (X=(3, N=960)=16.066, p=.001) All Arab showed results similar to Shiites and U.S.A where 54 percent (N= 54) of the discussions were coded as negative, and only four percent (N=4) were positive (X=(3, N=960)=40.599, p=.000) Figures 4-47 th rough 4-60 show cross-tabulations with Pearsons Chi-square coefficients for the relationships between tone and topics across all forums. Within Forums Cross-tabulations with P earsons Chi-square coefficients we re used to study the statistical significance of relationships and inte ractions between the tone of discussions and the forums. Levels of significance for this test were present. Out of the 88 discussions coded as having a positive tone, Saudi Arabia had the highest number of discussi ons with a positive tone (N=27, 30.7%). Kuwait and Jordan followed with each having 21 positive toned discussions (23.9%). Of the 438 discussions carrying a negative tone, Egypt had the highest sh are with 30.6 percent (N=132) followed by Saudi Arabia with 26.4 percent (N=114) Kuwait had the highest number of neutral discussions (N=119, 30.6%) (X=(9, N=960)=26.054, p=.002) Another way to analyze these results is by looking at the total discussions of each forum. Out of the 250 total discussions in the Egyptian forum, more than half were negative (N=132, 52.8%). Almost ha lf of Saudi Arabias discussions were also negative (N=114, 45.8%). But in the Kuwaiti and Jordanian forums the majority of the discussions carried a neutral tone. Figures 4-61 & 4-62 show crosstabulations with Pearsons Chisquare coefficients for the relationships between tone and forums. While the previous results show that tone of posts vary among the four forums, it does not give specific details on where they vary, meaning on what topics are tones different within each forum. For this part, tests were used to analyze three variables: forum name tone, and other specific topics. It was decided that the most ad equate data analysis method to explore the relationship among the variables was case selection with cross-tabulation. In this test, only the samples with specific topics

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52 being tested were analyzed a nd cross-tabulated. For example, government was coded in 549 discussions, so only those 549 discus sions were used in the cross-ta bulation between tone and forum name. The test was run using all the topics, and also combined some topics based on observations seen thorough the coding process. For example, it was observed that in most discussions about Shiites, Sunnis were also included, so one of the tests selected cases with both Sunni and Shiites. For this test, significance levels we re seen only in discussi ons about government and local issues and when both these issues were combined. Government was coded 549 times with 39 di scussions being positive, 269 were negative, 205 were neutral and 36 were mixed. Of the 39 positive discussions about government, Saudi Arabia had the largest share (N =18, 46.2%). Egypt, however, had the biggest share of negative discussions about government (N =98, 36.4%). For Neutral discus sions, Jordan had the highest portion (N=58, 28.3 %) (X=(9, N=960)=26.553, p=.002) Figures4-63 & 4-64 show cross-tabulations with Pearsons Chi-square coefficients for the relationships between tone and forums only with discussions about government. For 467 observations about local issues, 47 were positive, 205 were negative, 191 were neutral, and 24 were mixed. Saudi Arabia a nd Kuwait both had the highest number of positive discussions about local issues with 18 each (38.3 %). Again, Egypt had the highest share of negative local discussions (N=78, 38.4%). Kuwait also had the largest share of neutral discussions about local issues (N=91, 47.6%). Jordan had the lowest number of discussi ons in all four tones, mainly because Jordan had the lowest number of discussions about local issues (X=(9, N=960)=31.320, p=.000) Figures 4-65 & 4-66 show cro ss-tabulations with Pearsons Ch i-square coefficients for the relationships between tone and forums onl y with discussions about local issues. When the discussions about local issues and government were combined, the sample shrunk to 278. Of those discussions, 26 had a positive tone, 125 were negative, 105 were neutral and

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53 22 had a mixed tone. Once again, Saudi Arabia led in the positive tone category, Egypt led in the negative discussions and Kuwait led in the neutral category (X=(9, N=960)=42.963, p=.000) Figures 4-67 & 4-68 show cross-tabulations with Pearsons Chi-square coefficients for the relationships between tone and forums only with discussions about local issues and government combined. RQ5: How Did Forum Users React to the Original Post? A series of analysis of variance (ANOVA) wa s conducted to study the association between the various types of comments as dependent, contin uous variables (i.e., number of comments, number of views, comments agreeing, comments disagreeing a nd comments adding) and the four forums as independent variables or the ca tegorical variables. All of the ANOVA tests conducted for this section showed levels of significance. Number of Comments and Views Some very interesting results were found in this section. As shown in Table 4-43, Saudi Arabia had the least mean number of comments (M= 8.09 ) (df=3/954,f =14.209, p =.000), and the highest mean number of views (M=231.18 ) Recalling from the first research question, Kuwait had the least number of threads in the political category, but in this pa rt, had the second highest mean number of comments, ahead of Saudi Arabia, which had the most number of threads in the political category, and ahead of Egypt whic h had the second highest number of topics discussed in the political category. Table 4-9 shows the mean number of comments and views in each forum. Figure 4-69 presents the mean number of comments in each forum, and Figure 4-70 presents the mean number of views Comments Agreeing, Disagreeing and Adding The study showed that most of the comments were adding information rather than agreeing or disagreeing. The tests also showed that there wa s more agreement amongst the forum members than

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54 there was disagreement. One interesting result to poi nt out is the fact that Kuwait scored lowest in the mean number of comments agreeing (M=1.69), but had the highest mean number of comments disagreeing (M=0.97). Table 4-10 an d Figures 4-71 to 4-73 show the mean numbers of comments agreeing, disagreeing and adding in each forum.

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55 Table 4-1. List of categories from the Sahat KSA forum Category Threads Percent Political 7583 30.6 Open Dialogue 5159 20.8 Islamic 2875 11.6 Women 1299 5.2 Entertainment 1103 4.5 Poetry 978 4 Social 871 3.5 Literature 766 3.1 Education 584 2.4 Computer and Internet 546 2.2 Family 475 1.9 Healthcare 468 1.9 Islamic Multimedia 420 1.7 Suggestions 379 1.5 Stock Exchange 241 1 Graphics 230 0.9 Advertisements 212 0.9 Software 167 0.7 English language 107 0.4 Removed Threads 94 0.4 Islamic: Q&A 54 0.2 Saudi History 52 0.2 Sports 49 0.2 Talent 14 0.1 Interviews 27 0.1 Total 24753 100

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56 Table 4-2. List of categories from the Egypt Sons forum Category Threads Percent Islamic 8899 15.1 Political 5295 9 General 4444 7.5 Jokes 4278 7.3 Software 3952 6.6 Social 3696 6.3 Poetry-Arabic 3434 5.8 Short Story 3159 5.4 Family 3150 5.3 Hot Topics 2932 5 Photos 2627 4.5 Music 2084 3.5 Healthcare 1461 2.5 Sports 1313 2.2 Poetry-Egyptian 1315 2.2 Short Poetry 1099 1.9 Technical 1052 1.8 Literature 818 1.4 Cars 796 1.3 Suggestions 739 1.3 Around the World 654 1.1 Talents 300 0.5 Games 310 0.5 Graphic Design 223 0.4 Computers 211 0.4 Repeated Discussions 204 0.3 Under 20 96 0.2 Stock Exchange 99 0.2 Web Design 145 0.2 Business 42 0.1 Language 85 0.1 Science 52 0.1 Total 58964 100

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57 Table 4-3. List of categories from the Abu-Mahjoob forum Category Threads Percent General 13961 30 Poetry 6465 13.9 Political 3012 6.5 Islamic 2629 5.7 Music 2385 5.1 Palestine in the Heart 2249 4.8 Sports 1963 4.2 Fun 1891 4.1 Computers and Internet 1786 3.8 Iraq the Prisoner of War 1742 3.7 Healthcare 1604 3.4 Cell Phone 1206 2.7 Cultural 1266 2.7 Arts 1091 2.4 Economy 1039 2.2 Knowledge 944 2 Jordan for All 406 1 Cars 297 0.6 Human Rights 192 0.4 Engineering 155 0.3 Advertisements 120 0.3 Investigative 63 0.1 Suggestions 57 0.1 Total 46523 100 Table 4-4. List of categorie s from the Al Ommah forum Category Threads Percent Local Politics 1668 42 Opinion 684 17.2 General 421 10.6 International Politics 399 10 Culture and Literature 291 7.3 Islamic 204 5.1 Family, Youth and Sport 168 4.2 Technology 137 3.4 Total 3972 100

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58 Table 4-5. Frequencies of topics discussed across all forums Topic Yes (%) No (%) Government 57.2 42.8 Ideology 25.8 74.2 War 21.7 78.3 Islam 12.1 87.9 Elected Officials 11.6 88.4 Media 10.1 89.9 Economy 9.7 90.3 Other Topics 6.9 93.1 Elections 6.6 93.4 Laws 6 94 Shittes 5.8 94.2 Other Social 5.1 94.9 Education 3.6 96.4 Crime 3.1 96.9 Sunni 2.5 97.5 Women 2 98 Scholars and Shariah 2 98 Minorities 1.9 98.1 Healthcare 1.6 98.4 Christianity 1.6 98.4 Judaism 1.3 98.8 Marriage 0.2 99.8 Other Religion 0.2 99.8 Table 4-6. Frequencies of countri es discussed across all forums Nations Yes (%) No (%) Local 48.6 51.4 Israel 16.4 83.6 Palestine 14.4 85.6 Lebanon 13.9 86.1 USA 13.8 86.2 All Arab 10.4 89.6 Other Arab 8.4 91.6 Other Non Arab 8.2 91.8 Iraq 6.6 93.4 Iran 6.1 93.9 Table 4-7. Framing of human subjects frequency table across all forums Framing Frequency Percent Group 392 40.8 Individual 295 30.7 Mixed 171 17.8 Unknown 102 10.6 Total 960 100

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59 Table 4-8. Tone of original post frequency table across all forums Tone Frequency Percentage Positive 88 9.2 Negative 432 45 Neutral 389 40.5 Mixed 51 5.3 Total 960 100 Table 4-9. Number of Comments and Views Forum Mean number of Comments Mean number of Views Al Ommah 10.71 156.94 Sahat KSA 8.09 231.18 Abu-Mahjoob 16.14 183.68 Egypt Sons 10.02 166.98 (df=3/954,f =14.209, p =.000) (df=3/954,f =4.541, p =.004) Table 4-10. Mean numbers of comments agreeing, disagreeing and adding in each forum Forum Mean Number of Com Agreeing Mean Number of Com Disagreeing Mean Number of Com Adding Al Ommah 1.69 0.97 4.04 Sahat KSA 2.22 0.66 2.93 Abu-Mahjoob 2.27 0.55 4.01 Egypt Sons 2.28 0.54 3.23 (df=3/956,f =3.476, p =.016) (df=3/956,f =4.938, p =.002) (df=3/956,f =7.486, p =.000) Crosstab 138 111 249 33.6% 20.2% 25.9% 104 145 249 25.3% 26.4% 25.9% 82 130 212 20.0% 23.7% 22.1% 87 163 250 21.2% 29.7% 26.0% 411 549 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Government Count % within Government Count % within Government Count % within Government Count % within Government Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Government Total Figure 4-1. Cross-tabulations be tween forums and government

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60 Chi-Square Tests 121.652a 3 .000 114.173 3 .000 64.695 1 .000 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 24.51. a. Figure 4-2. Analysis of signifi cance: forums and government Crosstab 174 75 249 20.5% 67.6% 25.9% 243 6 249 28.6% 5.4% 25.9% 190 22 212 22.4% 19.8% 22.1% 242 8 250 28.5% 7.2% 26.0% 849 111 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Elected Officials Count % within Elected Officials Count % within Elected Officials Count % within Elected Officials Count % within Elected Officials Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Elected Officials Total Figure 4-3. Cross-tabulations betwee n forums and elected officials Chi-Square Tests 121.652a 3 .000 114.173 3 .000 64.695 1 .000 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum ex p ected count is 24.51. a. Figure 4-4. Analysis of significance: forums and elected officials

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61 Crosstab 211 38 249 23.5% 60.3% 25.9% 245 4 249 27.3% 6.3% 25.9% 205 7 212 22.9% 11.1% 22.1% 236 14 250 26.3% 22.2% 26.0% 897 63 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Elections Count % within Elections Count % within Elections Count % within Elections Count % within Elections Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Elections Total Figure 4-5. Cross-tabulations be tween forums and elections Chi-Square Tests 44.753a 3 .000 41.811 3 .000 14.670 1 .000 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 13.91. a. Figure 4-6. Analysis of signifi cance: forums and elections Crosstab 191 58 249 26.8% 23.4% 25.9% 190 59 249 26.7% 23.8% 25.9% 136 76 212 19.1% 30.6% 22.1% 195 55 250 27.4% 22.2% 26.0% 712 248 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Ideology Count % within Ideology Count % within Ideology Count % within Ideology Count % within Ideology Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Ideology Total Figure 4-7. Cross-tabulations between forums and ideology

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62 Chi-Square Tests 14.450a 3 .002 13.791 3 .003 .297 1 .586 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 54.77. a. Figure 4-8. Analysis of signi ficance: forums and ideology Crosstab 221 28 249 29.4% 13.5% 25.9% 213 36 249 28.3% 17.3% 25.9% 129 83 212 17.2% 39.9% 22.1% 189 61 250 25.1% 29.3% 26.0% 752 208 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within War Count % within War Count % within War Count % within War Count % within War Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES War Total Figure 4-9. Cross-tabulations between forums and war Chi-Square Tests 62.844a 3 .000 60.976 3 .000 27.964 1 .000 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 45.93. a. Figure 4-10. Analysis of si gnificance: forums and war

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63 Crosstab 210 39 249 24.2% 41.9% 25.9% 219 30 249 25.3% 32.3% 25.9% 205 7 212 23.6% 7.5% 22.1% 233 17 250 26.9% 18.3% 26.0% 867 93 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Economy Count % within Economy Count % within Economy Count % within Economy Count % within Economy Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Economy Total Figure 4-11. Cross-tabulations between forums and economy Chi-Square Tests 24.010a 3 .000 25.783 3 .000 16.941 1 .000 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 20.54. a. Figure 4-12. Analysis of si gnificance: forums and economy Crosstab 237 12 249 27.5% 12.4% 25.9% 209 40 249 24.2% 41.2% 25.9% 196 16 212 22.7% 16.5% 22.1% 221 29 250 25.6% 29.9% 26.0% 863 97 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Media Count % within Media Count % within Media Count % within Media Count % within Media Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Media Total Figure 4-13. Cross-tabulations between forums and media

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64 Chi-Square Tests 19.536a 3 .000 19.975 3 .000 2.058 1 .151 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 21.42. a. Figure 4-14. Analysis of si gnificance: forums and media Crosstab 240 9 249 25.5% 50.0% 25.9% 242 7 249 25.7% 38.9% 25.9% 212 0 212 22.5% .0% 22.1% 248 2 250 26.3% 11.1% 26.0% 942 18 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Minorities Count % within Minorities Count % within Minorities Count % within Minorities Count % within Minorities Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Minorities Total Figure 4-15. Cross-tabulations between forums and minorities Chi-Square Tests 10.902a 3 .012 14.282 3 .003 8.211 1 .004 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 4 cells (50.0%) have expect ed count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 3.98. a. Figure 4-16. Analysis of significance: forums and minorities

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65 Crosstab 240 9 249 25.8% 30.0% 25.9% 233 16 249 25.1% 53.3% 25.9% 211 1 212 22.7% 3.3% 22.1% 246 4 250 26.5% 13.3% 26.0% 930 30 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Crime Count % within Crime Count % within Crime Count % within Crime Count % within Crime Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Crime Total Figure 4-17. Cross-tabulations between forums and crime Chi-Square Tests 16.008a 3 .001 17.052 3 .001 5.581 1 .018 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum ex p ected count is 6.63. a. Figure 4-18. Analysis of significance: forums and crime Crosstab 246 3 249 29.1% 2.6% 25.9% 182 67 249 21.6% 57.8% 25.9% 192 20 212 22.7% 17.2% 22.1% 224 26 250 26.5% 22.4% 26.0% 844 116 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Islam Count % within Islam Count % within Islam Count % within Islam Count % within Islam Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Islam Total Figure 4-19. Cross-tabulations between forums and Islam

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66 Chi-Square Tests 81.316a 3 .000 85.819 3 .000 1.295 1 .255 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 25.62. a. Figure 4-20. Analysis of si gnificance: forums and Islam Crosstab 244 5 249 26.1% 20.8% 25.9% 237 12 249 25.3% 50.0% 25.9% 210 2 212 22.4% 8.3% 22.1% 245 5 250 26.2% 20.8% 26.0% 936 24 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Sunni Count % within Sunni Count % within Sunni Count % within Sunni Count % within Sunni Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Sunni Total Figure 4-21. Cross-tabulations between forums and Sunni Chi-Square Tests 8.106a 3 .044 7.634 3 .054 .693 1 .405 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 5.30. a. Figure 4-22. Analysis of si gnificance: forums and Sunni

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67 Crosstab 248 1 249 26.4% 5.3% 25.9% 238 11 249 25.3% 57.9% 25.9% 212 0 212 22.5% .0% 22.1% 243 7 250 25.8% 36.8% 26.0% 941 19 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Scholars, Shariah Count % within Scholars, Shariah Count % within Scholars, Shariah Count % within Scholars, Shariah Count % within Scholars, Shariah Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Scholars, Shariah Total Figure 4-23. Cross-tabulations between forums and scholars Chi-Square Tests 15.975a 3 .001 19.648 3 .000 .612 1 .434 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 4 cells (50.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 4.20. a. Figure 4-24. Analysis of signi ficance: forums and scholars Crosstab 232 17 249 25.7% 30.4% 25.9% 224 25 249 24.8% 44.6% 25.9% 206 6 212 22.8% 10.7% 22.1% 242 8 250 26.8% 14.3% 26.0% 904 56 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Shiites Count % within Shiites Count % within Shiites Count % within Shiites Count % within Shiites Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Shiites Total Figure 4-25. Cross-tabulations between forums and Shiites

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68 Chi-Square Tests 15.107a 3 .002 15.099 3 .002 7.117 1 .008 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 12.37. a. Figure 4-26. Analysis of significance: forums and Shiites Crosstab 248 1 249 26.2% 6.7% 25.9% 244 5 249 25.8% 33.3% 25.9% 211 1 212 22.3% 6.7% 22.1% 242 8 250 25.6% 53.3% 26.0% 945 15 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Christianity Count % within Christianity Count % within Christianity Count % within Christianity Count % within Christianity Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Christianity Total Figure 4-27. Cross-tabulations be tween forums and Christianity Chi-Square Tests 8.501a 3 .037 8.999 3 .029 4.032 1 .045 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 4 cells (50.0%) have expect ed count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 3.31. a. Figure 4-28. Analysis of signifi cance: forums and Christianity

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69 Crosstab 66 183 249 26.5% 73.5% 100.0% 13.4% 39.2% 25.9% 6.9% 19.1% 25.9% 130 119 249 52.2% 47.8% 100.0% 26.4% 25.5% 25.9% 13.5% 12.4% 25.9% 183 29 212 86.3% 13.7% 100.0% 37.1% 6.2% 22.1% 19.1% 3.0% 22.1% 114 136 250 45.6% 54.4% 100.0% 23.1% 29.1% 26.0% 11.9% 14.2% 26.0% 493 467 960 51.4% 48.6% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 51.4% 48.6% 100.0% Count % within Forum Name % within Local % of Total Count % within Forum Name % within Local % of Total Count % within Forum Name % within Local % of Total Count % within Forum Name % within Local % of Total Count % within Forum Name % within Local % of Total Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Local Total Figure 4-29. Cross-tabulations be tween forums and local issues Chi-Square Tests 168.685a 3 .000 183.599 3 .000 37.149 1 .000 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 103.13. a. Figure 4-30. Analysis of significance: forums and local issues Crosstab 246 3 249 29.9% 2.2% 25.9% 234 15 249 28.5% 10.9% 25.9% 119 93 212 14.5% 67.4% 22.1% 223 27 250 27.1% 19.6% 26.0% 822 138 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Palestine Count % within Palestine Count % within Palestine Count % within Palestine Count % within Palestine Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Palestine Total

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70 Figure 4-31. Cross-tabulations between forums and Palestine Chi-Square Tests 201.611a 3 .000 182.798 3 .000 39.328 1 .000 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 30.48. a. Figure 4-32. Analysis of signi ficance: forums and Palestine Crosstab 209 40 249 25.3% 30.1% 25.9% 230 19 249 27.8% 14.3% 25.9% 167 45 212 20.2% 33.8% 22.1% 221 29 250 26.7% 21.8% 26.0% 827 133 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Lebanon Count % within Lebanon Count % within Lebanon Count % within Lebanon Count % within Lebanon Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Lebanon Total Figure 4-33. Cross-tabulations between forums and Lebanon Chi-Square Tests 19.819a 3 .000 20.036 3 .000 .009 1 .925 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 29.37. a. Figure 4-34. Analysis of si gnificance: forums and Lebanon

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71 Crosstab 239 10 249 29.8% 6.4% 25.9% 221 28 249 27.5% 17.8% 25.9% 144 68 212 17.9% 43.3% 22.1% 199 51 250 24.8% 32.5% 26.0% 803 157 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Israel Count % within Israel Count % within Israel Count % within Israel Count % within Israel Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Israel Total Figure 4-35. Cross-tabulations between forums and Israel Chi-Square Tests 73.756a 3 .000 77.380 3 .000 41.909 1 .000 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 34.67. a. Figure 4-36. Analysis of signi ficance: forums and Israel Crosstab 235 14 249 28.4% 10.6% 25.9% 205 44 249 24.8% 33.3% 25.9% 180 32 212 21.7% 24.2% 22.1% 208 42 250 25.1% 31.8% 26.0% 828 132 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within U.S.A Count % within U.S.A Count % within U.S.A Count % within U.S.A Count % within U.S.A Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES U.S.A Total Figure 4-37. Cross-tabulations between forums and U.S.A

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72 Chi-Square Tests 19.381a 3 .000 22.454 3 .000 10.003 1 .002 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 29.15. a. Figure 4-38. Analysis of si gnificance: forums and U.S.A Crosstab 245 4 249 28.5% 4.0% 25.9% 228 21 249 26.5% 21.0% 25.9% 167 45 212 19.4% 45.0% 22.1% 220 30 250 25.6% 30.0% 26.0% 860 100 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within All Arab Count % within All Arab Count % within All Arab Count % within All Arab Count % within All Arab Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES All Arab Total Figure 4-39. Cross-tabulations between forums and all Arab Chi-Square Tests 48.979a 3 .000 53.884 3 .000 24.086 1 .000 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 22.08. a. Figure 4-40. Analysis of signi ficance: forums and all Arab

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73 Crosstab 236 13 249 26.8% 16.0% 25.9% 208 41 249 23.7% 50.6% 25.9% 197 15 212 22.4% 18.5% 22.1% 238 12 250 27.1% 14.8% 26.0% 879 81 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Other Arab Count % within Other Arab Count % within Other Arab Count % within Other Arab Count % within Other Arab Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Other Arab Total Figure 4-41. Cross-tabulations between forums and other Arab Chi-Square Tests 28.900a 3 .000 26.010 3 .000 1.783 1 .182 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum ex p ected count is 17.89. a. Figure 4-42. Analysis of signi ficance: forums and other Arab Crosstab 239 10 249 27.1% 12.7% 25.9% 214 35 249 24.3% 44.3% 25.9% 198 14 212 22.5% 17.7% 22.1% 230 20 250 26.1% 25.3% 26.0% 881 79 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Other Non Arab Count % within Other Non Arab Count % within Other Non Arab Count % within Other Non Arab Count % within Other Non Arab Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total NO YES Other Non Arab Total Figure 4-43. Cross-tabulations be tween forums and other non-Arab

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74 Chi-Square Tests 17.807a 3 .000 17.316 3 .001 .372 1 .542 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 17.45. a. Figure 4-44. Analysis of signifi cance: forums and other non-Arab Forum Name Framing of Humans Crosstabulation 94 102 31 22 249 24.0% 34.6% 18.1% 21.6% 25.9% 108 70 47 24 249 27.6% 23.7% 27.5% 23.5% 25.9% 91 56 40 25 212 23.2% 19.0% 23.4% 24.5% 22.1% 99 67 53 31 250 25.3% 22.7% 31.0% 30.4% 26.0% 392 295 171 102 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Framing of Humans Count % within Framing of Humans Count % within Framing of Humans Count % within Framing of Humans Count % within Framing of Humans Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total Group Individual Mixed Unknown Framing of Humans Total Figure 4-45. Cross-tabulations between forums and framing of human subjects Chi-Square Tests 20.789a 9 .014 20.505 9 .015 2.704 1 .100 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 22.53. a. Figure 4-46. Analysis of significance: fo rums and framing of human subjects

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75 Crosstab 49 39 88 11.9% 7.1% 9.2% 163 269 432 39.7% 49.0% 45.0% 184 205 389 44.8% 37.3% 40.5% 15 36 51 3.6% 6.6% 5.3% 411 549 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Government Count % within Government Count % within Government Count % within Government Count % within Government Positive Negative Neutral Mixed Tone of Post Total NO YES Government Total Figure 4-47. Cross-tabulations between tone and government across all forums Chi-Square Tests 17.449a 3 .001 17.553 3 .001 .453 1 .501 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 21.83. a. Figure 4-48. Analysis of significance: t one and government across all forums Crosstab 66 22 88 8.8% 10.6% 9.2% 333 99 432 44.3% 47.6% 45.0% 319 70 389 42.4% 33.7% 40.5% 34 17 51 4.5% 8.2% 5.3% 752 208 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within War Count % within War Count % within War Count % within War Count % within War Positive Negative Neutral Mixed Tone of Post Total NO YES War Total Figure 4-49. Cross-tabulations betwee n tone and war across all forums

PAGE 76

76 Chi-Square Tests 8.154a 3 .043 7.859 3 .049 .325 1 .569 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 11.05. a. Figure 4-50. Analysis of significan ce: tone and war across all forums Crosstab 79 9 88 9.4% 7.8% 9.2% 382 50 432 45.3% 43.1% 45.0% 345 44 389 40.9% 37.9% 40.5% 38 13 51 4.5% 11.2% 5.3% 844 116 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Islam Count % within Islam Count % within Islam Count % within Islam Count % within Islam Positive Negative Neutral Mixed Tone of Post Total NO YES Islam Total Figure 4-51. Cross-tabulations betwee n tone and Islam across all forums Chi-Square Tests 9.238a 3 .026 7.462 3 .059 2.781 1 .095 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 6.16. a. Figure 4-52. Analysis of significance: tone and Islam across all forums

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77 Crosstab 88 0 88 9.4% .0% 9.2% 424 8 432 45.3% 33.3% 45.0% 377 12 389 40.3% 50.0% 40.5% 47 4 51 5.0% 16.7% 5.3% 936 24 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Sunni Count % within Sunni Count % within Sunni Count % within Sunni Count % within Sunni Positive Negative Neutral Mixed Tone of Post Total NO YES Sunni Total Figure 4-53. Cross-tabulations betwee n tone and Sunni across all forums Chi-Square Tests 9.520a 3 .023 9.630 3 .022 7.888 1 .005 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 2 cells (25.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 1.28. a. Figure 4-54. Analysis of significance: tone and Sunni across all forums Crosstab 88 0 88 9.7% .0% 9.2% 400 32 432 44.2% 57.1% 45.0% 371 18 389 41.0% 32.1% 40.5% 45 6 51 5.0% 10.7% 5.3% 904 56 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within Shiites Count % within Shiites Count % within Shiites Count % within Shiites Count % within Shiites Positive Negative Neutral Mixed Tone of Post Total NO YES Shiites Total Figure 4-55. Cross-tabulations betwee n tone and Shiites across all forums

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78 Chi-Square Tests 11.696a 3 .008 16.049 3 .001 1.497 1 .221 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 1 cells (12.5%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 2.98. a. Figure 4-56. Analysis of significance: tone and Shiites across all forums Crosstab 86 2 88 10.4% 1.5% 9.2% 356 76 432 43.0% 57.6% 45.0% 342 47 389 41.3% 35.6% 40.5% 44 7 51 5.3% 5.3% 5.3% 828 132 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within U.S.A Count % within U.S.A Count % within U.S.A Count % within U.S.A Count % within U.S.A Positive Negative Neutral Mixed Tone of Post Total NO YES U.S.A Total Figure 4-57. Cross-tabulations between tone and U.S.A. across all forums Chi-Square Tests 16.066a 3 .001 20.243 3 .000 .212 1 .645 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 7.01. a. Figure 4-58. Analysis of significance: tone and U.S.A. across all forums

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79 Crosstab 84 4 88 9.8% 4.0% 9.2% 378 54 432 44.0% 54.0% 45.0% 364 25 389 42.3% 25.0% 40.5% 34 17 51 4.0% 17.0% 5.3% 860 100 960 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Count % within All Arab Count % within All Arab Count % within All Arab Count % within All Arab Count % within All Arab Positive Negative Neutral Mixed Tone of Post Total NO YES All Arab Total Figure 4-59. Cross-tabulations between tone and all Arab across all forums Chi-Square Tests 40.599a 3 .000 32.964 3 .000 3.546 1 .060 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 5.31. a. Figure 4-60. Analysis of significance: tone and all Arab across all forums Tone of Post Forum Name Crosstabulation 21 27 21 19 88 23.9% 30.7% 23.9% 21.6% 100.0% 100 114 86 132 432 23.1% 26.4% 19.9% 30.6% 100.0% 119 87 99 84 389 30.6% 22.4% 25.4% 21.6% 100.0% 9 21 6 15 51 17.6% 41.2% 11.8% 29.4% 100.0% 249 249 212 250 960 25.9% 25.9% 22.1% 26.0% 100.0% Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Positive Negative Neutral Mixed Tone of Post Total Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total Figure 4-61. Cross-tabulations between tone and forums

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80 Chi-Square Tests 26.054a 9 .002 25.935 9 .002 1.396 1 .237 960 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 11.26. a. Figure 4-62. Analysis of si gnificance: tone and forums Tone of Post Forum Name Crosstabulation 4 18 8 9 39 10.3% 46.2% 20.5% 23.1% 100.0% 50 62 59 98 269 18.6% 23.0% 21.9% 36.4% 100.0% 51 51 58 45 205 24.9% 24.9% 28.3% 22.0% 100.0% 6 14 5 11 36 16.7% 38.9% 13.9% 30.6% 100.0% 111 145 130 163 549 20.2% 26.4% 23.7% 29.7% 100.0% Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Positive Negative Neutral Mixed Tone of Post Total Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total Figure 4-63. Cross-tabulations be tween tone and forums only with discussions about government Chi-Square Tests 26.553a 9 .002 25.923 9 .002 3.017 1 .082 549 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 7.28. a. Figure 4-64. Analysis of significance: tone and forums only with discussions about government

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81 Tone of Post Forum Name Crosstabulation 18 18 0 11 47 38.3% 38.3% .0% 23.4% 100.0% 66 49 12 78 205 32.2% 23.9% 5.9% 38.0% 100.0% 91 41 17 42 191 47.6% 21.5% 8.9% 22.0% 100.0% 8 11 0 5 24 33.3% 45.8% .0% 20.8% 100.0% 183 119 29 136 467 39.2% 25.5% 6.2% 29.1% 100.0% Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Positive Negative Neutral Mixed Tone of Post Total Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total Figure 4-65. Cross-tabulations betw een tone and forums only with discussions about local issues Chi-Square Tests 31.320a 9 .000 34.240 9 .000 3.732 1 .053 467 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 2 cells (12.5%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 1.49. a. Figure 4-66. Analysis of significance: tone and fo rums only with discussions about local issues Tone of Post Forum Name Crosstabulation 4 15 0 7 26 15.4% 57.7% .0% 26.9% 100.0% 28 26 6 65 125 22.4% 20.8% 4.8% 52.0% 100.0% 41 29 11 24 105 39.0% 27.6% 10.5% 22.9% 100.0% 6 11 0 5 22 27.3% 50.0% .0% 22.7% 100.0% 79 81 17 101 278 28.4% 29.1% 6.1% 36.3% 100.0% Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Count % within Tone of Post Positive Negative Neutral Mixed Tone of Post Total Al Ommah Sahat KSA Abu Mahjoob Egypt Sons Forum Name Total Figure 4-67. Cross-tabulations be tween tone and forums only with discussions about government

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82 Chi-Square Tests 42.963a 9 .000 43.499 9 .000 8.271 1 .004 278 Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) 2 cells (12.5%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 1.35. a. Figure 4-68. Analysis of significance: tone and forums only with discussions about government Figure 4-69. Mean number of comments in each forum

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83 Figure 4-70. Mean number of views in each forum Figure 4-71. Mean number of comments agreeing in each forum Figure 4-72. Mean number of comments disagreeing in each forum

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84 Figure 4-73. Mean number of comments adding in each forum

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85 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION RQ1: How Interested Are Arab Internet Users in Politics? Before discussing the results of this research question, it must be made clear that the Kuwaiti forum is different from the other three forums because it is more of a politically oriented forum than a general one. But, looking at the results from the general forums of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, it is clear that Arab Intern et users are interested in politics. Politica l topics of discussion ranked within the top three most discussed categories on all forums. Regardless of what the topics are specifically about and what tone they carry, it was evident that Ar abs see the Internet as an open opportunity for political expression. In ternet users were not shy or relu ctant to engage in any sort of political debate. Analyzing only a partial sample from the four forums showed that almost every news event in 2006from the many conflicts and wars in the Middle East to the recent Republican majority loss in the U.S. Congresswas discus sed. This shows how involved Arabs are in knowing what is going on around them and in expressing thei r concerns online. Even online users who do not participate in these forums can still learn and make sense of events surrounding them just by reading or viewing. And for those who do not have an Internet connection, it only takes one person to read or participate, and spread the news by word of mouth or SMS. As expressed earlier, Internet usage has been on the rise in the Middle East, and according to the diffusion of innovations theory, as more peopl e adopt an innovation, cons equences will certainly follow. This part of the study clearly found that Arab forum users are adop ting political discussions more than other discussions, but the consequences of this warrant further study. Analyzing the variety of topics discussed, and the manner in which they were discu ssed, can explain the consequences of online political debate in the Arab world.

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86 It must be noted, however, that critics of on line media believe the a nonymity of online users discredit research su rrounding the Internet. In this study, most if not all, of the forum users used aliases or nicknames rather than their real names. But this does not undermine the results of this study. In fact, it is believed th at the act of using nicknames ra ther than real names further strengthened the research. People in politically oppressed societies like the Arab world are taking advantage of the anonymity the Internet provides, a nd are expressing their opini ons freely in a public arena. It is also relevant to say that those who put their time a nd effort in reading and writing on the Web are some of the most involved people in the regionthey are the ones who are more concerned about their country, their people, and their government. It also has to be noted that those people represent a relatively small segment of the popul ation. Because of the accessibility and the knowledge factors needed to go online, it can be dete rmined that the forum users studied represent the more educated, younger, and richer portions of each countrys population. RQ2: What Were the Topics of Discussion? Overall The overall results show that government was the most discussed topic among the forum users from the four Arab countries studied. G overnment represents the executive branch, which includes presidents or leaders of countries, cabin et members, ministers, public officials, and government bureaus. It was of no surprise that g overnment was widely discussed because in most political debates, the most prominent figures are presidents or cabinet members. Also, government can be related to many other topics. In discussi ons about war, for example, governments are most often included. Governments can also be relate d to issues about education or healthcare. Government-related issues are a bi g part of political debate all around the world, and the Arab world is no different. While government was coded in more than half of the sample, the second and third most coded topics were ide ology (25.8%) and war (21.7%). Islam (12.1%) and elected

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87 officials (11.6%) followed. This huge difference in the number of times government was coded and the number of times the rest of the topics we re coded can be explained in terms of how each forum had a different set of do minant topics discussed. While government-related issues were popular in all the forums that is not the case with the rest of the topics. Islam, for example, was discussed most in the Saudi forum, and ideology appeared on the Jordanian forum the most. More on the differences within each forum will be discussed later. Topics that were rarely discussed were main ly ones concerned with social issues like education (3.6%), women (2%), healthcare (1.6%), and minorities (1.9%). Religions other than Islam were also seldom discussedChris tianity (1.6%), Judaism (1.3%), and other religions (0.2%). A reason behind th is low outcome could simply be a lack of interest, but a more realistic reason is that these topics dont usually fall within the political realm. Also, there are separate categories for some the topics listed abov e in all of the forums. The Saudi forum, for example, has a separate womens cat egory that has the fourth highest number of threads (N=1,299). The Egyptian forum has a healthcar e category of discussion with 1,461 total threads. So the forum users usually discuss issues like the status of women or educati on in the categories specified for those topics rather than open a discussi on on such issues in the political category. Within Forums One of the main objectives behind this study wa s to show that the Arab world is not a homogenous region as it has been co ntinuously perceived by the West. Rather, it is an area filled with differences, complexities and conflict. The topics discussed on each forum showcase these varieties within each country. Kuwait Of the seven political topics coded for this study, the Kuwaiti forum, overwhelmingly, had the most number of discussions about elected officials (67.6%), elec tions (60.3%), and the

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88 economy (41.9%). Issues concerned with the National Assembly and its members are widely discussed, not only online, but also in face-t o-face Kuwaiti gatherings. As the amounts of democracy and freedom of expression increase, the amount of political discussion also increases. As mentioned earlier, Kuwait has a democr atically elected parliament and has one of the most, if not the most, free press in the Arab world. Elected offi cials are very important to the Kuwaiti public because they are the ones who actually legislat e and carry the voices of the citizens to the government. There is, however, another reason behind this la rge difference in the number of times elected officials was coded for Kuwait (N =75) versus the number of times it was coded for all of the other forums combined (N=36). Politically speaking, 2006 was a critical year fo r Kuwait. There was a huge debate in the assembly between the sitting government with its supportive elected officials and the opposition parliament members on the issue of voting distri cts. Kuwait had 25 voting districts with two members representing each district in the National Assembly. The 25 districts were said to have many flaws by 29 elected officials, also known as the group of 29 reformists. The proposed plan was to make districts larger in size by decreasing them in number from 25 to five. The government was not willing to pursue this change. The Kuwait i public knew that this was one of the positive reforms for the future of Kuwait and was unhappy with subtle and ignorant reaction from the government. The people, especially the youth, bega n to react and demonstr ate in what was called the Orange Revolution. Demonstr ations increased in size and im pact. The government and the 29 reformists could not reach an agreement on th e issue because both sides were unwilling to compromise. There was basically miscommunica tion and no progress was made. The Amir had no choice but to dissolve parliament and call elections a month later. The June 2006 elections, in which Kuwaiti women voted for the first time, was one of the most critical. The Kuwaiti public sent a clear

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89 message to the government by voting for a major ity reformist parliament. A month after the elections the voting elector al districts were reduced from 25 to five. This summary of the incident explains why elect ed officials and elections were talked about most in the Kuwaiti forum. Kuwait also led the fo rums in discussions about the economy. The big misconception about Kuwait is that everyone in th e country is rich, but in fact, that is not the case. Because of government incentives that were explained earlier, Kuwaitis appear to be rich they live in lavish houses, are in good health b ecause of cheap food and fr ee healthcare, and are well educated because of the free education. But what most people do not know is that Kuwait has a very materialistic culture where people sp end money on what they want rather than what they need. It is a culture obsessed with image where money is spent on luxury items like jewelry, handbags, furniture, and cars. This materialist culture alon g with the enticing low interest loans trapped many Kuwaitis into falling in debt. Economy was wide ly talked about because some elected officials wanted to pass legislation that would pay off certain individual Kuwaiti debts. The justification was that the government donates millions of dollars over seas, so it is about time for the government to support its people by paying off their debts. Th ere was a huge debate on this issue all around Kuwait, making it one of the hot topics in 2006. Saudi Arabia As the only country abiding by the Sunni Islamic Shariah and as the guard ian of the holy cities to which millions of Muslim pilgrims travel each y ear for Hajj, religion is a big part of day-to-day conversations among Saudis. It was interesting to see how this religi ous cultural trait reflects in the study. Saudi Arabia had the highest number of discussions in all t opics about the Islamic religion: Islam (57.8%), Sunni (50%), S hiites (44.6%) and Shariah (57.9 %). Saudi Arabia also had the largest share of discussions in topics about the media (41.2%), and other non-Arab not including Iran, Israel, and the United States (44.3%). It was also exciting to look at these numbers

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90 and try to link and make sense of them. The link be tween Islam, media, and other non-Arab could be explained by the discussions about the derogatory depiction of Prophet Mohammad in 12 cartoons appearing in a Danish newspaper early in 2006. Wh ile this issue was touched upon in all forums, the Saudis clearly showed more concern and frustr ation, and had the most threads about it. Topics about Sunnis and Shiites usually appeared in discussions about the unstable situation in Iraq, where Sunnis and Shiites are continually killing each other. Also common in the Shiite/Sunni debate are topics about Irans interference in the Arab world by supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon. It was not surprising to see Saudi Arabia leading the countries in th e number of topics about Shiites and Sunnis. Saudi Arabia is where Islam was born, and is home of the holiest Muslim city, Mecca. For that reason the country praises itself as the protector of orthodox Sunni Islam, and part of its obligation is to preserve the tradi tion of the religion, and prevent it from distortion from the likes of the Shiites who now represent 10 percent of Muslims (Shi'ite, 2007). Countries with large populations of Shiites include Iran, Iraq, Lebano n, Yemen, Kuwait, and Bahrain (The Middle East, 1994). Because of Shiisms concentr ation in Iran, the clash between the two sects has recently been concerned with politics as well as religion. Am irahmadi (1993) says three major forces are responsible for rising tensions between Saudi Arab ia and Iran: Ideological and cultural differences, struggle for OPEC leadership, and quest for supremacy in the Persian Gulf (p. 140). Cultural differences are mainly ethnic and li nguistic,where Saudis represent the Arab and Arab-speaking population of the Mi ddle East, and Iran represents the Persians and Farsi-speaking population of the Middle East. It is the different religious ideol ogy, however, that has been creating the most controversy for many years. The Sunni/Shiit e clash has recently received a lot of attention in Western media, but the ideological and histor ic background usually go without explanation. The conflict between both groups began many years after the death of Prophet Mohammad. Abu Bakar, the Prophets father-in-law and his cl osest companion, was named caliphthe leader of

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91 Muslims. After the death of Abu Bakar, Omar I bn Al Khatab and Othman Ibn Affaan were the second and third caliphs. Shiites denounce the firs t three caliphs and clai m the Prophet designated his cousin Ali, who was the fourth caliph, to lead the Muslims. The interesting thing was that all these men were close companions of Prophet Mo hammad, were best of friends, and were never enemies. They all followed the same Islam, but hi storic events and literature made each one of them a representative of the two sectsAbu Bakr, Omar and, Othman as the faces of Sunni Islam, and Ali as the Shiites represen tative (Al Khamis).While Sunnis believ e the caliphate should have been given to the most deserved and capable man, Shiites believe only blood relatives of the Prophet should be leaders of the Muslims. Shiites also have their own set of beliefs and interpretations of the Koran and Islamic history (Al Khamis; Shi'ite, 2007). Ideological and religious tensions have been goi ng on for centuries, but it was the 1979 Iranian revolution that reinforced political and economical conflicts between the Arabs and the Persians (Iranians). The Iranian revolution established a Shiite state with a Shiite doctrine, in which almost all Shiites pay close attention. Th e Iranians also wanted to spread their revolutionary successes to the Arab world. Some of these revolutionary tact ics included engaging in a war against Iraq in 1980; financing Hezbollah, a Shiite group in Lebanon; a nd recently supporting Shiite militias in Iraq. These moves by Iran keep Arabs worried about the fu ture of the region. This frustration comes out more in the Saudi Arabian forum because both Sa udis and Iranians perceive each other as chief enemies in the Middle East. This frustration with th e Iranians can also be seen in the Kuwaiti forum, but not as much in the Egyptian and Jordania n forums. One explanation can be geography and locationKuwait and Saudi Arabia are closer to Iran than the other two countries. Also, both countries have experienced a long hi story of Iranian threats. But a nother explanation could be that the Iranians have succeeded in winning some tole rance from Arabs throu gh Hezbollahs so-called

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92 recent victory over the Israelis. This might impress Jordanians and Egyptians especially because they share borders with Israel. In June of 2006, Hamas kidnapped an Israeli so ldier and demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel. In reaction, the Israelis launched a horrific a ssault on Gaza, an act followed by a unanimous Arab condemnation. Four days later, Hezbollah forces in Lebanon crossed the borders into Israel and captured two other soldiers. Agai n, the Israelis launched military attacks, targeting and killing many civilians in Lebanon. This time, however, the reaction from Arab leaders was very subtle. In fact, Arab governments blamed Hez bollahs acts for the destruction in Lebanon (Rubin, 2006). Iran, however, praised the gro up and claimed it to be the savior of Muslims from the Israelis. Many Arabs were angered by the apathetic reactions fr om their leaders. This frustration with Arab governments, along with sympathy toward Hezbo llah, and sometimes toward Iran, was pronounced more in the Egyptian and Jordanian forums than it was in the Kuwait and Saudi forums. Surprisingly, the United States was not discussed as much as other countries or issues. Of the 132 times U.S.A. was coded, the Saudi forum c ontained the most mentions (N=44, 33.3%), and Egypt Sons very closely followed (N=42, 31.8%). Discussions about the Unites States were very restrained, in that they were not primarily aimed at the United States. The United States was rather talked about in relation to different issues. For the Saudis, the United States was mostly mentioned in discussions about the war in Iraq, and for the Egyptians, the di scussions surrounded the United States involvement in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Jordan One interesting result can be seen in the local issues category, where more than 50 percent of the discussions in the Kuwaiti forum (73.5%) and the Egyptian forum (54.4%) had something to do with local issues. The Saudi Arabian forum was a cl ose third, with 47.8 percent of the discussions. The Jordanian forum, however, had a totally opposite outcome, with only 13.7 percent of the

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93 discussions concentrating on local issues. The topics most frequently discussed in the Jordanian forum were about ideology, war, Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, and all Arab. Again, looking at the history, demographics and culture of Jordan, these re sults were not surprising. As explained in the literature review, Jordan became ho me to millions of Palestinian refugees since the inception of the state of Israel in 1948. Today a bout 60 percent of the Jordanian population is of Palestinian origin (The Middle Ea st, 1994). Even though there is a category in the forum specified for Palestinian issues, the majority of the disc ussions in the political category were about the Israeli/Middle East conflict. The forum was used many times to disseminate the latest news surrounding the conflict. It was also used as a means to verify or dispel any rumors or conspiracies constantly emerging as a result of this conflict. Two main events were greatly discussed th roughout the sample. The first was about Hezbollahs clash with Israel, which was mentio ned earlier. The other was about the quarrel between the two Palestinia n groups: Hamas, an Islamist party th at rejects any ties with Israel, and Fatah, the long-dominant party that would rather nego tiate with Israel than fight them. The tensions began amid Hamas surprising victory over Pr esident Mahmoud Abbas Fatah party in the parliamentary elections (Hamas rejects Abbas security plan, 2006). With Hamas leading the legislative branch and Fatah in charge of the executive, both parties were trying to establish themselves as the major players in Palestinian po litics. In early April of 2006, Abbas vetoed a Hamas government decision to form a new for ce of armed militants headed by Jamal Abu Samhadana, a man wanted by the Israeli forces (Hamas, Fatah supporters clash in Gaza, 2006). Demonstrations by supporters from both parties followed, which eventually led to violence and interference from police forces. The violence escalated between civilian supporters as political leaders from both parties continue d heckling one another. This event disrupt ed Palestinian unity, and Jordanian forum users expressed their deep concerns about it.

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94 Ideology ranked very high the Jordanian forum because groups such as Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah were coded as ideology. It is also obvious th at Jordanians led with the highest incidents of topics about war, Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon because of their unique interests and involvement in the conflict. As for all Arab, there was a common theme in blaming the Arab world and its governments for not standing up for the Palestinian cause. This theme developed even more when Arab governments condemned Hezbollahs ac ts after it kidnap ped two Israeli soldiers. Egypt The Egyptian forum was the most difficult to an alyze because the topics discussed were all over the placeit had a bit of everything. Egypt only led the forums in discussions about government and Christianity. Even though cr oss-tabulations of government and forum name with Pearsons Chi-square show ed levels of significance, al l forums had a high number of government mentions, and there was not a big difference between them: Egypt (N=163), Saudi Arabia (N=145), Jordan (N=130), and Kuwait (N=111) But still, Egypt had the highest number. One common theme in the Egyptian forum was the continuous criticism of President Mubarak. Recalling from the first research question, the mo st popular category in the Egyptian forum was the Islamic one, which may signify that the main read ers of this forum are conservative or support Islamic conservative parties like the popular Muslim Br otherhood in Egypt. Egypt is supposedly a democracy where the executive and legislative bodies are democr atically elected. But through rigged elections, media control, and threatening the opposition, the National Democratic Party has been in power since the coup detat (U.S. De partment of State, 2006; Quick, 2003; Amin, 2003; Kalathil & Boas, 2003). The forum users, who appear to be strong supporters of conservative parties or other opposition parties, expresse d constant frustrations over Mu abark and his government. In any negativity surrounding issues like education, healthcare, crim e, or the economy, the president

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95 was usually first to blame. The president al so came under harsh criticism when he publicly denounced Hezbollahs capture of two Israeli soldiers. Out of the 15 times Christianity was coded in all forums, Egypt had the most mentions (N=8). It is a very small numb er when compared to the sample size of 960, but the fact that Egypt more than half of the discussions on Christianity can be explained. Out of the four countries, Egypt has the biggest percentage of Ch ristian population (10%) (CIA Fact Book, 2007), so it is plausible to conclude that this was the r eason behind the Egyptian forum having the most number of threads about Christianity. Another interesting result from the Egyptian forum is that it ha d the second most discussions on war, Israel, Palestine and all Arab. In t hose four issues, Jordan had the most discussions. Egyptian forum users showed strong concerns fo r the Israeli/Palestinian conflictsomething not seen as much in the Kuwaiti and Saudi forums. It can be explained in both a geographic and a political sense. Both countries, Egypt and Jord an, share a border with Israel, which makes the Israeli/Palestinian conflict closer to home. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, however, are farther to the east. Also, Egypt had its own set of conflicts and wars with the Israelis ove r the year. The most significant war between bot h countries was the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It was interesting to see how th e diversity within the Arab wo rld reflects through the political interests of the forum users. This study found th at each Arab country had a unique political agenda that was influenced by many independent variab les like geography, culture, history, demographics, major news events, and political and economic structures. This conclusion also goes hand in hand with Deborah Wheelers (2006) assertion that o nline behavior is in part shaped by off-line variables (p. 189).

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96 RQ3: How Were Human Subjects Framed? The only significant difference seen for this ques tion is for the Individual frame. Out of the 295 times human subjects were referred to as individuals, Kuwait had the largest share (N=102, 41%). It can be explained, that since 2006 was an election year for Kuwait, candidates were talked about and critiqued continuously. Also, there are no political parties in Kuwait, meaning all candidates run as independents. Even though ther e are no political parties, some candidates run based on ideologies like conservative, liberal, Sunni, or Shiites, but still, they do not run under an official party. RQ4: What Was the Tone of the Original Post? Overall One of the main objectives behind this study wa s to see what Arabs think of democracy and the West, and whether or not they want to see ch anges in the politics of their countries. This objective was reached through the observations of tones and language used in the discussions. Of the total 960 discussions, more than 80 percent of the topics analyzed were coded as having either a negative (N=432, 45%) or a neutral (N=389, 40.5%) tone. Topics with a positive tone (N=88) comprised only 9.2 percent of the total sample, and 5.3 per cent of the topics had a mixed tone (N=51). In any political discussions, whet her online, face-to-face or via telephone, the common tone is usually negative, so it was not surprising to see most of the discussions in the forums have a negative tone. Arabs were criti cal of almost everythingnews events, people, politicians, countries, and governmentsbut that criti cism was observed to be mostly constructive, rational, and thoughtful. Some discussions contained harsh, dem eaning, and violent language, but those were not very common. The Arab world has b een, and still is, in conf lict with countries like the United States and Israel, so it is obvious why discussions about those tw o countries were mostly negative. That negativity, however, was based on j udgment of news events and history. Participants

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97 in the forum continuously critici zed both countries, but rarely were slurs like death to America or kill all Isra elis found. It was surprising to see that a large portion of the topics carried a neutral tone. Most of these neutral topics were either news articles or questions It can be explained th at Arabs see forums as a news-gathering medium. In closed societies with restrained presse s, there are not many options for seeking accurate, up-to-date, and balanced news. Arabs therefore see an a lternative with the many independent online news sites and ne wspapers. Also, as a result of unfree presses, rumors begin, and one way to spread and validate those rumors is through the use of online media or forums. Topics, across all forums, that showed signi ficance levels with tone were government, war, Islam, Sunni, Shiites U.S.A., and all Arab. For government, almost half of the discussions (49%) were negative. As mentioned earlier, in political discussions, the most prominent figur es talked about are those associated with the government (presidents and cabinet members). Also, whenever something wrong happens, the first people to blame are, again, those associated with government. It was not surprising that most discussions on war were negative, because rare ly does anything positive come out of a war. Moreover, the wars mostly discussed in the foru msIraqi War, the Israeli/Palestinian ongoing war, and the Israeli/Hezbollah clashwere in the Arab region, so Arabs we re greatly affected by them. It may be surprising that most of the discus sions on Islam were ne gative, but discussions circulating around Islam in the polit ical category were usually associ ated with other issues. One of the big issues was the incident of the Danish newspaper that publis hed cartoons of Prophet Mohammad. As mentioned above, that incident cau sed outrage in the Islamic world, and this anger was reflected in the forums. For topics solely about Islam, people would rather post them on the Islamic category than on the political category.

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98 More than half of the topics about Shiites were negative (57.1 %), and this further reflects the historic and continuing clash between the mos tly Sunni Arabs and the minority Shiite Arabs who are supported by Iran. It was not surprising to see more than half the discussions about U.S.A. (57.6%) having a negative tone. America was always blamed for st anding with Israel against the Palestinians, for being anti-Islam, and for starting an unjust war in Iraq, in which thousands of civilians died. All Arabs also had similar resu lts to Shiites and U.S.A., in which more than half of the discussions carried a negative tone There has always been a common theme in blaming the Arab governments for not standing up for the Palestinian cause. This theme developed even more when Arab governments condemned Hezbolla hs acts after it kidnap ped two Israeli soldiers. This incident caused forum users, especially from Egypt and Jord an, to express their anim osity toward the Arab governments. Within forums Tones of discussion across most topics were usually similar within each forum. The only significant difference between forums was found in discussions about government and local topics, and when both of these topics were comb ined. It was interesting to see that in all occurrences, the Saudi forum had the highest numbe r of positive discussions and the Egyptian forum had the highest number of negative toned discussi ons. It was observed during the coding process that the Saudis always praised th eir king and talked about him in a positive manner. In his country, King Abdulla Alsaud is loved and we ll respected. He has put most of his efforts into reforming the economics and politics of Saudi Arabia. He expa nded the private sector, tackled unemployment, raised salaries, and attracted more foreign investors, all of which played a role in improving living conditions of the Saudis.

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99 In Egypt, however, their president, Mubarak, is always talked about negatively because of the corruption and excessive control of the government. As mentioned earlier, through rigged elections, media control, and threatening the opposition, Muba raks National Democratic Party has been ruling Egypt since the coup. While many forum users in Egypt continuously criticized the president and his government, very few went so far as to call fo r a revolution. But even if people start calling for revolution online, Mubaraks re gime has nothing to worry about. According the World Fact Book (2007), only 5 million of Egypts 78.9 total popula tion are going online. Not many Egyptians use the Internet because of financial reasons, but mo re important, because of the low literacy level Egypts 57.7 percent literacy rate is clearly not co mpatible with the Internet culture. This finding supports Bonfadellis (2006) Internet and knowle dge gap assumptions. Because of the unlimited, unstructured, and heterogonous supply of informati on the Internet provides, Bofadelli (2006) says, in comparison to the old media, use of the Internet requires a much more act ive and skilled user (p. 73). This extra need of skill to use the Internet further widens the gap of knowledge between the educated and uneducated. In talking about local governme nts, Egypt showed the most ne gativity and criticism. The forum users from the other three countries also expr essed some levels of negativity when they talked about their own governments, but it was mostly based on dissatisfa ction with certain events and laws. Some users called for reform and change in the political systems, but none called for a revolution or an overthrow of the current governments. While the forum users may pose a few challenges to Arab governments, these results support Wheelers (2006) and Kalathil and Bo as (2003) argument that the Internet doesnt pose a threat to authoritarian regimes.

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100 RQ5: How Did Forum Users React to the Original Post? Some interesting results were found when the number of views and number comments from each forum were analyzed. The Saudi forum had the lowest mean number of comments and the highest mean number of views, meaning that peopl e preferred reading the discussions rather than participating in them. Oppositely, the Kuwaiti fo rum had the second highest mean number of comments and the lowest mean number of views. One explanation can be that as the level of democracy in a certain country increases, the motiv ation for political expre ssion increases. Saudi Arabia is the least democratic of the bunch, a nd it was interesting to see how people felt more comfortable reading than writing on th e forums. It can be inferred that fear of putting their lives or social status in jeopardy is what made users hesitant in expressing their opinions. As mentioned earlier, Kuwait is the most democratic out of the countries analyzed, and th ese results reflect the Kuwaiti off-line culture whereby people are continuous ly engaging in political debates. But these results could have been skewed one way because of the political orientation of the Kuwaiti forum. Because Al Ommah is a political forum, then its users could have been politically savvy and have great interest and passion for polit ical discussion. The fact that th e Jordanian forum had the highest mean number of comments could be explained in terms of the extr eme popularity of the forum in the country, meaning it has more users than the Kuwait or the Saudi forum. But also, 2006 was one of the most critical years for the Palestinian/Israeli c onflict, as explained earlier, which resulted in a big number of debates. In the comments agreeing, disagreeing, and a dding section, all forums except Kuwaits showed great levels of agreement. Many people ag reed rather than disagreed with one another. Whenever one user disagrees with the general us er population, that user usually finds him/herself alone. In the Kuwaiti forum, in contrast, that us er would usually find others agreeing with him or her, and thats probably why Kuwa it showed the largest mean numb er of comments disagreeing.

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101 That can also be explained in terms of levels of democracy: as the level of democracy increases, the level of disagreement also increases. The topics that were most discussed in the Kuwait forumthe districts, elections, and the paying off of debtswere also widely debated in face-to-face gatherings, and each of them had their own set of supporters and disapprovers.

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102 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION By analyzing political discussions in online fo rums from four Arab countriesKuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordanthis study was able to reach its main objective: To make sense of the Arab world and explore the divers ity within the region by identifying the political interests of Arab online users and their perceptio ns of the West and democracy. These online users, however, represent the more educated, richer, and younger segments of the region. The Western media has continually framed the Arab world as one homogenous region, but by analyzing political discussions in online foru ms from four Arab countries, this study found otherwise. Through the exploration of political issu es, it was clear that every Arab country had its own political agenda determined by geographical, hist orical, cultural, and political contexts. This conclusion confirms to Deborah Wheelers (2006) asse rtion that online behavi or is in part shaped by off-line variables (p. 189). Because of the closeness of Jordan and Egypt to Israel and the long history of conflicts among all three countries, the Jordanian and Egyptian forum users showed great levels of interest in issues like the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and the Isra eli/Hezbollah clash. Being the birthplace of the religion of Islam and home of the holy cities, it wa s not surprising to see Saudi forum users more involved in topics about Islam. They showed great pride in their reli gion, and were ready to challenge anyone who undermined Islam. With Ku wait being the most democratic country of the bunch, the Kuwaiti forum users were more interested in local politicsespeci ally in a year when national elections were held. They discussed i ssues concerning the National Assembly, elected officials, and the elections. The media has also perceived the Arab world as being a threat to the West. While the study found that Arabs were very critical of those who dispute and challenge them violent and threatening discussions aimed at Western coun tries were rarely found. Discussions about America, Israel, and

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103 other countries like Iran mostly carried a negati ve tone, but that negativ ity used constructive criticism, and was based on judgmen t of news events and history. Through the analysis of the tones used in the political discussions, it was evident that Arabs expressed some levels of negativity toward their local governments. Some users called for reform and change in the political systems, but none went to the extreme and called for a revolution or an overthrow of the current government. This study al so confirms to Kalathil and Boas conclusion that the Internet, at least in th e short-run, does not pose a th reat to Arab governments. By analyzing the political interests of an average Arab Inte rnet user, this study was able to present an image of the region and its people that is contradictory to the stereotypical and negative picture often found in the Western medi a. This study was also able to show that in closed societies like the Arab world, some people can now express themselves freely over the Internet. This freedom, however, does not undermine the political fu ture of the Arab authoritarian governments.

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104 CHAPTER 7 LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE WORK Limitations Two major limitations were experien ced in this study. First was in the selection of the forums. While the initial strategy was to study the most prominent general forums in each country, such a forum could not be identified for Kuwait. Instead, a fairly political forum, Al Ommah, was used. This decision may have skewed results in a certai n direction, but it is not be lieved to have a strong influence on the final results. Another limitation wa s realized during the data collection process. It was expected that anything online would remain onlin e for a long time. Well, that was not the case, and instead, it was concluded that an ything online can be kept online as long as the owner of the site wants it to be. The Jordanian forum, unexpectedly deleted its archived politi cal discussions for the months of January and February of 2006. As a re sult, the sample size from Jordan was reduced from 250 to 212. The missing samples were based on a time frame that could have generated more significant results. The Arabic language was used throughout the sample, but it was based on accents and slang rather than the formal language used in newspape rs or books. Some words and connotations were difficult to understand, so language barri ers could have been another limitation. Future Work The large sample used in this study, and the la rge number of significan t results generated has opened doors for a variety of future studies that could add new knowledge to the field of mass communication. First, is to do a similar st udy, but based on another year for example. Comparing both years in a longitudi nal study could generate interesting results. Another is to add more countries to strengthen the conclusion of this study. One more idea is to conduct qualitative analysis on major topics like govern ment or local issues to make even more sense of political discussions in the Arab world. Another form of qualitative analysis that could be used is to

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105 interview local political experts from each country about the findings of this study, and to find out whether or not these experts believe the Internet w ill bring about political change in the future. This study concluded that every Arab country ha d a unique political agenda affected by a set of independent variables like geography, demogr aphics, history, and pol itical and economic structures. It would be interes ting to further explore these indepe ndent variables to see which ones have greater impact on Arab political opinion.

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106 APPENDIX A CODING SHEET Table A-1. Coding Sheet Variable Name Variable Description Value Labels ID Identification Number Forum Name of Forum 1-Al Ommah 2-Sahat KSA 3-Abu Mahjoob 4-Egypt Sons Comments Number of Comments 2Views Number of Times a Topic was Viewed 2Political1 Political Topics of Discussion: Government 0-No 1-Yes Political2 Political Topics of Di scussion: Elected officials 0-No 1-Yes Political3 Political Topics of Discussion: Laws 0-No 1-Yes Political4 Political Topics of Discussion: Elections 0-No 1-Yes Political5 Political Topics of Discussion: Ideology 0-No 1-Yes Political6 Political Topics of Discussion: War 0-No 1-Yes Political7 Political Topics of Discussion: Economy 0-No 1-Yes Social1 Social Topics of Discussion: Media 0-No 1-Yes Social2 Social Topics of Di scussion: Healthcare 0-No 1-Yes Social3 Social Topics of Discussion: Education 0-No 1-Yes Social4 Social Topics of Discussion: Minorities 0-No 1-Yes Social5 Social Topics of Discussion: Marriage 0-No 1-Yes Social6 Social Topics of Discussion: Women 0-No 1-Yes Social7 Social Topics of Discussion: Crime 0-No 1-Yes Social8 Social Topics of Discussion: Other 0-No 1-Yes Religion1 Religious Topics of Discussion: Islam 0-No 1-Yes

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107 Table A-1. Continued Religion2 Religious Topics of Discussion: Sunni 0-No 1-Yes Religion3 Religious Topics of Discussion: Shiites 0-No 1-Yes Religion4 Religious Topics of Discussion: Shariah and Scholars 0-No 1-Yes Religion5 Religious Topics of Discussion: Christianity 0-No 1-Yes Religion6 Religious Topics of Discussion: Judaism 0-No 1-Yes Religion7 Religious Topics of Discussion: Other Religions 0-No 1-Yes Nations1 Local 0-No 1-Yes Nations2 Iraq 0-No 1-Yes Nations3 Palestine 0-No 1-Yes Nations4 Lebanon 0-No 1-Yes Nations5 Iran 0-No 1-Yes Nations6 U.S.A 0-No 1-Yes Nations7 Israel 0-No 1-Yes Nations8 All Arab 0-No 1-Yes Nations9 Other Arab not including Palestine and Iraq 0-No 1-Yes Nations10 Other Non Arab not including U.S.A., Israel and Iran 0-No 1-Yes Other Other topics of Discussion 0-No 1-Yes Framing Framing of Human Subjects 1-Group 2-Individual 3-Mix 4-Unknown Tone Tone of Original Post 1-Positive 2-Negative 3-Neutral 4-Mixed Agree Comments Agreeing with Original Post 0Disagree Comments Disagreeing with Original Post 0Add Comments That Add Info to Original Post 0Other Out of Context or other comments 0

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108 APPENDIX B CODING GUIDE Comments and Views To see the number of comments and the number of times a discussion was viewed, simply go back to the list of discussions within the Political category forum. The following diagram will help: Topics of Discussion Politics Social Issues Religion Nations Other Government Elected officials Laws Elections Ideology War Economy Media Healthcare Education Minorities Marriage Women Crime Other Islam Sunni Shiite Shariah and Scholars Christianity Judaism Other religions Local Iraq Palestine Lebanon Iran U.S.A Israel All Arab Other Arab Other non Arab

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109 For the social issues, religion and nations fiel ds, simply mark yes when you see any of the listed issues or terms discussed and mark no when they are not. A simple mention of the issues doesnt mean that it is discussed. You have to make sure that the issue you select is part of the main discussion. For example, if the discussion is main ly about the war in Iraq, and the writer might relate something to the Palestinia n conflict, Palestine should not be marked as the issue discussed. It is more complicated for the political fiel d because the listed issues may appear unclear. Government : Here, we are talking about the execu tive branch, which includes the rulers, cabinet members, minister s and public officials. Elected Officials : This section is devoted for the le gislative branch and includes elected officials and parliamentary issues. Laws : This is the judiciary section, which includ es topics like laws and policy, judges and courts. Elections : This section deals with el ections, voting and candidates. Ideology : Ideologies include groups or political parties like Hamas, Al Qaeda, or Hezbollah. Some countries like Kuwait and Sa udi Arabia do not have political pa rties, but they do have some sort of political groups determined by ideologyc onservatives and liberals or Muslim Brotherhood. War : Anything dealing with war and military conflict. Economy : Businesses, corporations, loans and inte rest rates, employment and anything that has to do with the economy go here. If the discussion doesnt relate to the issues and topics listed, then mark them as other Framing of Human Subjects Mainly look at how the forum users identify human subjects. Are they specific and call people by their names or do they generalize? a. As a group: All Arabs, Americans, Jews, etc. b. As an Individual: I, Bush, Osama Bin Laden, the president, etc.

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110 c. Mixed: A mix of both d. Unknown: If there is no mention of a human subject Tone By reading the original posts a nd analyzing the words used, the res earcher will identify the tones of the post. It has to be clea red that we are not evaluating the t one of the content; we are rather evaluating the tone of the language used. Any word s of praise and encouragement are considered positive. The use of words with a pessimistic co nnotation means the tone is negative. Examples are shown below: Positive: Abu Mahjoob, posted on December 8, 2006. In this post, the forum user wrote about how the government of Qatar donated $22 million to the Palestinians in the form of teacher salaries and building a sports complex for future Pa lestinian athletes. In th at post, the user used terms of approval about the Qatari government. Negative: From Egypt Sons, posted on Nove mber 16, 2006. Just by re ading the title, the tone of the post was easily determined. The titles English translation is Ira n and its dirty daily war on Iraqi citizens, why? The word dirty is what determined the tone of the post. If the word was eliminated, then the tone mi ght have been neutral. Neutral: From Abu Mahjoob, posted on Decembe r 3, 2006. The post had a comic picture of a Lebanese politician, Walid Joumblat. The forum user just posted a ques tion asking other users what they thought of this political figure. Anothe r example is from Sahat KSA, posted on November 26, 2006. The forum user posted an article about the Saudi govern ments efforts in opening doors for women to work in diplomatic institutions. The article in itself may be considered positive, but the forum user didnt express an opinion. The two examples here show that a neutral discussion can be in the form of a question or in the form of an article from a news agency posted without any opinion added to it.

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111 Mixed: From Egypt Sons, posted April 24, 2006. In this post, the forum member talked about how the Nepali people were de monstrating to overthrow their c ountrys dictator. The writer applauded their efforts for reform and at the same time wondered how there was no mention of this event in any Egyptian news media. He talked negatively about the Egyptian media and government and wondered when the Egyptians will rise the same way the Nepali people did. Tone of comments This could be the most difficult step, but these guid elines will help. Most of our samples have less than 10 comments, but there are some that have more. For samples with less than 10 comments, we will evaluate all the comments. For samples with more than 10, we will be looking at the first 10 only. You will be reading the comments and determining whether the comments agree or disagree with the original post. Some comm ents will not provide any sort of supporting or opposing opinion. If that happens, then you have two other choices: I. Adding Information: Meaning that the user added updated information or stated facts rather than express an opinion. This usua lly happens when the original post is a question. II. Other: Some comments go off tangent and ha ve nothing to do with the original post. Other comments simply could not be understood. Some comments agree or disagree with original post and also add more information. When you come across this situation, mark it as agree or di sagree and ignore the fact that it added information

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112 LIST OF REFERENCES 2006 Parliamentary Election result s in Kuwait (2006, June 30). Al Watan Retrieved October 15, 2006, from http://www.alwatan.com.kw/Defau lt.aspx?MgDid=415015&pageId=26 Abu Mahjoob. Retrieved October, 2006, from http://www.mahjoob.com/ar/forums/index.php A Clash of Cultures: while recent events suggest a shift towa rds freer forms of governance in the Middle East, the prospects for democracy in the region appear bleak (2005) Geographical Dossier/democracy,77 (7), 40-42. Al Kahmis, O. (Speaker). A Glance from Islamic History (Cassette Recording). Retrieved March, 20 from http://www.islamway.com/?iw_s=S cholar&iw_a=series&series_id=203 Al Ommah. Retrieved October, 2006, from http://www.alommah.org/forum/ Alterman, J. (1998). New Media, New Politics: From Sa tellite Television to the Internet in the Arab World Washington Institute for Near Policy 48, 77-79. Amin, H. (2003). Status of Media in Egypt Encyclopedia of International Media and Communications, 1, 479-487. Amirahmadi, H. (1993). Iranian-Saudi Arabian Rela tions since the Revolution. In H. Amirahmadi & N. Entessar (Eds.), Iran and the Arab World (pp.139-160). New York: St. Martins Press. Bonfadeli, H. (2002). The Internet and K nowledge Gaps: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation. European Journal of Communication, 17 (1), 65-84. Dajani, N. (2003). Status of Me dia in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Encyclopedia of International Media and Communications, 4, 301-315. Egypt (2007). The World Fact Book. Retrieved April 10, 2007 from https://www.cia.gov/cia/public ations/factbook/geos/eg.html Egypt Sons. Retrieved October, 2006, from http://www.egyptsons.com/misr/ Freedom of the Press in the Middle East (2006). Freedom House. Retrieved October 20, 2006 from http://freedomhouse.org/temp late.cfm?page=251&year=2006 Friedman, T. (2000, July 25). Censors Beware. The New York Times p. A25. Ghareeb, E. (2000). New Media and th e Information Revolution in the Arab World: An Assessment. The Middle East Journal 54(3), 395. Goshen, B. A. (1992,Winter). Maki ng Sense of Middle East Geopolitics. Focus, 4 2(4), 20-25. Gillmor, D (2004). We the Media: Grassroots Journa lism by the People for the People North Sebastopol, CA: OReilly Media. Hamas, Fatah Supporters Clash in Gaza (2006, April). Aljazeera Retrieved April 2, 2007 from http://english.aljazeera. net/English/archive/archive?ArchiveId=22220

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113 Hamas Rejects Abbas Security Plan (2006, Apri l). Aljazeera. Retrieved April 2, 2007 from http://english.aljazeera. net/English/archive/archive?ArchiveId=21807 Holsti, O. (1969). Content Analysis for the Social Sciences and Humanities Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Internet Usage in th e Middle East (2006). Internet World Stats: Usage and Population Statistics. Retrieved October 15, 2006 from http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats5.htm Jordan (2007). The World Fact Book. Retrieved April 10, 2007 from https://www.cia.gov/cia/public ations/factbook/geos/jo.html Kalathil, S, & Boas, T. C. (2003). Open Networks Closed Regimes: The Impact of th e Internet on Authoritarian Rule. Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Kluver, R., & Banerjee, I., (2005) Political Cultur e, Regulation and Democratization: The Internet in Nine Asian Nations. Information, Communication and Society 8(1), 30-46. Kuwait (2007). The World Fact Book. Retrieved April 10, 2007 from https://www.cia.gov/cia/public ations/factbook/geos/ku.html Louw, P. E. (2004). Journalists Reporting from Foreign Places. Global Journalism: Topical Issues and Media Systems (pp. 151-177). U.S.A: Pearson Education, Inc. Mamoun, F. (2000). Information Technology, Trust, and Social Change in the Arab World. The Middle East Journal 5 4 (3), 378. Palser, B. (2002). Not for Everyone: Online fo rums are not the best aspect of the Web American Journalism Review, 24 (1), 58. Quick, A. C. (2003). World Press Encyclopedia: A Survey of Press Systems Worldwide. Detroit: Thomas Gale. Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of Innovations. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc. Rubin, M. (2006, July 19). Iran Against the Arabs. The Wall Street Journal p. A12. Sahat KSA. Retrieved October, 2006, from http://sahatksa.com/forum/index.php Saudi Arabia (2007). The World Fact Book. Retrieved April 10, 2007 from https://www.cia.gov/cia/public ations/factbook/geos/sa.html Shi'ite (2007). In Encyclopdia Britannica. Retrieved April 6, 2007, from Encyclopdia Britannica Online: http://www.search.eb.com.lp.hs cl.ufl.edu/eb/article-9067367 The Middle East (8th ed.). (1994). Washington DC : Congressional Quarterly Inc. Tichenor, P. J., Donohue, G. A. & Olien, C. N. (1970). Mass Media Flow and Differential Growth in Knowledge. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 34 (2), 159-170. U.S. Department of State (2006). Background Notes. Retrieved October 20, 2006 from http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/

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114 Wheeler, D. L. (2003). Saudi Arabia a nd Gulf States, Status of Media in. Encyclopedia of International Media and Communications, 4, 127-141. Wheeler, D. L. (2006). The Internet in the Middle East : Global Expectations and Local Imaginations in Kuwait. New York: State University of New York Press.

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115 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Eisa Al Nashmi was born on December 6, 1983, in Kuwait. He received a bachelors degree in journalism with a minor in business from California State Un iversity, Fresno. During his years at Fresno State, Eisa wr ote for the school newspaper, Th e Collegian. Eisa also wrote for many student-based Kuwaiti magazines during his undergraduate years. Eisa then decided to pursue a masters degree in journali sm at the University of Florida. Eisa is currently a sponsored student from Ku wait University, the only public university in Kuwait. His main goal is to get his Ph.D. in on line media, and then transfer the knowledge and experience he gained from the University of Florida to Kuwait University, where he will be teaching in the near future.