Paratexts as gatekeepers in online global jihadist translation – The narrative of a blog-based Arabic translation of Dabiq

Mennatallah Mansi


Translation has played a pivotal role in disseminating global jihadist propaganda online from the declaration of global jihad in the late 1990s to its recent manifestation in 2014 with the emergence of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This paper contends that paratextual frames have a significant role in mediating the ideologically charged messages of global jihadist to diverse communities and when contexts change. The article investigates the gatekeeping function of paratexts within a blog-based Arabic translation of ISIS’s English magazine Dabiq (AZIZ8178 2016a). Drawing upon narrativity (Somers & Gibson 1993; Bruner 1991; Baker 2006a), the translations published in a blog, AZIZ8178, are scrutinized to explore the paratextual interventions that frame translated narratives. The results pinpoint a deliberate selection of articles for translation that aligns with the shifting circumstances faced by ISIS on the ground. Moreover, AZIZ8178’s Arabic version of Dabiq is shown to construct a narrative centered on identity, emphasizing internal conflicts and divisions within contemporary Arab communities. It is posited that AZIZ8178’s paratexts familiarize ISIS radical doctrines within the socio-political fabric, potentially inciting fanaticism among the targeted Arabic-speaking audience. The visibility and autonomy of the translator become evident in the paratextual elements of signatures and footnotes, eliciting his jihadist stance.


Jihadist translation; paratext; framing; gatekeeping; narrative theory; ISIS

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