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The Media and I.S. Returnees: Gender, Bias and Perceptions

2 September 2020
4:00 pm 5:15 pm,

This event has passed. You can watch it below:


Since the emergence of the so-called Islamic State, the group have taken precedence in the spotlight of international media. News agencies and journalists have prioritised the stories of the radicalised, the violent and the extreme, as well as the paths of those that come out the other side. But how far has this focus had an impact on the situation on the ground?

This webinar aims to discuss the role the media has played in creating narratives around the individuals that left to join these groups. A case in point being that of Shamima Begum, who in 2019 unintentionally became the poster child for all of the women in her situation. Headlines shout ‘jihadi bride’, rendering her and others like her, women with no agency. Shamima’s case highlights the indisputable connections between media narratives, public opinion and political will.

How different are the narratives that surround men? If media narratives changed could government policies on return, citizenship and rehabilitation also change?

These are just some of the questions this webinar will explore and we encourage all participants to send us any questions in advance to this email address: [email protected].


Anthony Loyd


Anthony Loyd is among the most experienced war correspondents of his generation. He began reporting for The Times during the Bosnian war in 1993 and since then he has reported from a series of major conflict zones, including those in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. His work for The Times has been recognised with ten major press awards, including an Amnesty International award for his work in Syria in 2012 and the 2014 Bayeux Calvados award. Loyd is also the author of two critically acclaimed books, My War Gone By, I Miss It So and Another Bloody Love Letter. Most recently Anthony gained notoriety in February 2019, when he tracked down Shamima Begum.

Myriam Francois


Dr Myriam Francois is a journalist, filmmaker and writer. Myriam is also a Research Associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS) at SOAS University. She completed her PhD (DPhil) at Oxford University, focusing on Islamic movements in Morocco in 2017. She holds an MA from Georgetown University (USA) and a BA from Cambridge university (UK).

Her documentary “City of Refuge”, looking at the plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, aired on BBC Radio4 in April 2019. Myriam is also the presenter of BBC World Service mini-docs on Brexit in a small, Leave-voting town in Wales (Llanelli) (2019), and on #MeToo in the Muslim world (2018).

Her Channel 4 documentary “The Truth about Muslim marriage” (11/2017) was nominated for best investigative documentary in 2018 (AMA), as well as two BBC One documentaries, “The Muslim Pound” (aired 07/ 2016) and “A Deadly Warning: Srebrenica Revisited”, (aired 07/2015) which was nominated for the Sandford St Martin religious programming award 2016.

Sara Shaban

Sara Shaban is Assistant Professor of Journalism at Seattle Pacific University and identifies as a critical/cultural scholar focused on the intersections between media, women’s social movements, and geopolitics in the Middle East. Shaban’s academic work is rooted within the theoretical frameworks of transnationalism and femonationalism. Her award-winning research is published in the International Journal of Communication, Communication and Critical Cultural Studies, and Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism.

Prior to life in academia, Shaban worked in U.S. local news as a producer before pursuing freelance journalism in Israel, the West Bank, and Sierra Leone. Shaban is fueled by her passion for social justice, specifically for immigrants and refugees. She was involved in initiatives to improve conditions for incoming refugees during the 2015 crisis and served as a volunteer and board member for the Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Program in St. Louis. Additionally, she served as the communications director for the St. Louis based NGO Project Peanut Butter — an organization committed to the eradication of child malnutrition throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Vera Mironova


Dr. Vera Mironova is a Russian-American academic, scholar, award-winning writer, producer, speaker, research fellow and policy consultant specializing in armed conflict. Vera is a visiting Research Fellow at Harvard University and a regular contributor to Foreign Policy, among other publications.

Vera is often referred to as ‘The Frontline Scholar’ due to her experiences embedded with the Iraq Special Operations Forces (ISOF) as they recaptured the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS in 2016-2017, documented in her 2019 book From Freedom Fighters to Jihadists: Human Resources of Non State Armed Groups (Oxford University Press).


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