Silvia Montenegro
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The framing of Muslims as threatening ‘Others’ in the tri-border region of Brazil–Argentina–Paraguay
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The so-called ‘Triple Frontier’ – the border between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay – is the ‘host society’ of an important Muslim community, composed mainly of Lebanese immigrants and their descendants born in Brazil and Paraguay. In less than two decades, Shi’i and Sunni Arab Muslims created mosques, religious centres, a cemetery, and three schools. Mosques, schools, and religious centres are spaces for the production of a sense of community. The institutional discourse of these entities emphasises the connection between religion and community of origin, considering Islam as part of ‘Arab culture’. However, since the early 2000s, through influences from international media and the US-led War on Terror, this area has been constructed as a ‘Terrorist Sanctuary’. This chapter aims to analyse how local Muslim communities became the object of an Islamophobic discourse played out as an external phenomenon; the region was also included in reports by the US Department of State as well as in the discourse by governmental agencies from Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. After 9/11 the Arab Muslim community organised itself through a series of movements supported by the local civil society to repudiate stigmatising campaigns.

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