Islamophobia and the brand of Osama: What’s in a name? What’s in an image?

The terrorist attacks in the United States and certain European countries on and after 9/11 have had profound implications for the ordinary Muslims living in these countries. Islamophobia emerged and was often adopted as mere custom. In this article, I bring Middle Eastern studies’ approaches to Islamophobia into dialogue with the marketing and branding literature through a critical assessment of the brand name Osama bin Laden . In the process, I survey the major effects of Islamophobia on Muslims living in the West, observing restrictions in public and formal life. By engaging empirical research and theoretical frameworks, I argue that Osama bin Laden as a strategy conceptualiser and a practitioner i.e., a militant jihadist served as a brand that was functional for al-Qaida. The brand image of ordinary Muslims became related to a continuing identification with Osama bin Laden, whose negative public image established an umbrella image for Muslims in general and for the given name Osama in particular, regardless of the personhood of ordinary citizens, with subsequent harmful repercussions.


Allen, Chris. (2010). Islamophobia. Farnham: Ashgate.

Álvarez del Blanco, Roberto. 2010. Personal Brands. Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Amour, P. O. (2018). Hamas-PLO/PNA/Fatah reconciliation and rapprochement within the unfolding regional order in the Middle East since 2010: Neorealist and neoclassical realist perspectives. Journal of Social Sciences of Mus Alparslan University, 6(5), 621–631.

Carr, James. (2015). Experiences of Islamophobia: Living with Racism in the Neoliberal Era, Routledge Research in Race & Ethnicity. New York, NY: Routledge.

Daniel, Norman. (1966). Islam, Europe and Empire. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Daniel, Norman. (2009). Islam and the West: The Making of an Image. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.

Dinnie, Keith. (2009). Nation Branding: Concepts, Issues, Practice. Amsterdam: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Fawcett, Louise. (2017). International Relations of the Middle East, Politics Trove: Oxford University Press.

Fekete, Liz. (2009). A Suitable Enemy: Racism, Migration and Islamophobia in Europe. London: Pluto Press.

Green, Todd H. (2015). The Fear of Islam: an Introduction to Islamophobia in the West. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press.

Hafez, Kai. (2000). Islam and the West in the Mass Media: Fragmented Images in a Globalizing World. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Hakanen, Ernest A. (2010). Branding the Teleself: Media Effects Discourse and the Changing Self. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Hourani, Albert. (1996). Islam in European Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jones, John Philip, and Jan Slater. (2003). What’s in a Name? Advertising and the Concept of Brands. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

Kaabour, Mahmoud, and Tim Schwab. (2004). Being Osama.

Kenney, Michael. (2007). From Pablo to Osama: Trafficking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Kundnani, Arun. (2014). The Muslims Are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, & the Domestic War on Terror. New York, NY: Verso.

Leach, Fiona, and Máiréad Dunne. (2007). Education, Conflict and Reconciliation International Perspectives. Oxford: Lang.

Little, Douglas. (2016). Us Versus Them: The United States, Radical Islam, and the Rise of the Green Threat. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.

Lyons, Jonathan. (2010). The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Press.

Lyons, Jonathan. (2012). Islam through Western Eyes: From the Crusades to the War on Terrorism. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Milton-Edwards, Beverley. (2001). Conflicts in the Middle East since 1945: Taylor & Francis.

Milton-Edwards, Beverley. (2011). Contemporary Politics in the Middle East. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Obeidallah, Dean. (2011). Bin Laden: Father of American Islamophobia. CNN.

Quellien, Alain. (1910). La politique musulmane dans l’Afrique occidentale française. Paris: Emile Larose.

Rampersad, Hubert K. (2009). Authentic Personal Branding: A New Blueprint for Building and Aligning a Powerful Leadership. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Randal, Jonathan. (2004). Osama: the Making of a Terrorist. New York, NY: Random House.

Riordan, Shaun. 2005. Dialogue-based Public Diplomacy: a New Foreign Policy Paradigm? In The New Public Diplomacy: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Said, Edward W. (1979). Orientalism. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Said, Edward W. (1994). Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage Books.

Sampson, Eleri. (2002). Build Your Personal Brand. London: Kogan


Scheuer, Michael. (2011). Osama Bin Laden: Oxford University Press.

Van Ham, Peter. (2010). Social Power in International Politics: New International Relations. New York: Routledge.