S. Rezaee: Suicide Attack as a Media Event: A Study on Communicative Processes of Suicide Bombing Attacks in Iran

Background: Political violence is a collective action which has social and symbolic goals and follows social and political advantages as out-group aim and internal group stability and conformity as its in-group goal. Suicide bombing attack is the most symbolic type of political violence. The opposite group creates an opportunity with committing suicide bombing attacks which form a short-lived but highly effective mass medium that can influence on all national and international mass media on the explosion day. The study aims to explore suicide bombing attack as a quasi-mass medium and understand it as a media event and extend it to suicide bombing attacks carried out in Southeastern Iran.

Methodology: The present study has been designed based on the communicative model of Suicide Attack as a Media Event and examines encoding process of Jundallah, an Iranian extremist Sunni group, in its suicide attacks. Qualitative contextual thematic analysis was applied on the group statements to understand concepts and meanings of its political violence discourse, and explore main discursive themes and elements of these social texts.

Results: Since December 2008, militant Jundallah group entered a new period in fight with Iran central government and it conducted and carried out five suicide bombings in Balochistan province, southeastern of Iran. The attacks were carried out in religious dates and sites related to resident Shiite minority in the region (3 attacks), and on armed forces of the central government (2 attacks). The sacrifices of these attacks were mass individuals like similar cases. The main themes of this group`s statements included weakening of the central government, taking revenge, autonomy of Balochistan province and establishing a regional government, defending Sunni religious believes, and also defining resident Shiite minority as alien.

Discussion: Political violence discourse of Jundallah group is a meaningful system, which reflects the regional position of this group as savior of Sunni Balochi people in contrast with the central Shiite government and in an international affirmative atmosphere. According to this definition, Jundallah group draws its utopia on Balochistan province which is politically autonomic within Iran`s boundaries, demographically, has a united Sunni Balochi population, economically, is the center of Asia, and religiously, gives complete freedom to Sunnis. To obtain these goals and based on cultural and social conditions of the region, this group uses two strategies in carrying out suicide attacks included, attack the government's representatives and agents and also Shiite minority, threatening, terrifying and persuading them to leave the region. In order to control this crisis, armed confrontation cannot be solely adequate and modifying cultural and ethnic policies are necessitated in the region. This encourages negotiation to substitute bombing words with peaceful dialogues.

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