Pope Benedict XVI and the Regensburg Lecture: The Representation of Islam and the “Clash of Civilizations” in the Italian Media

Martina Ambrosini


As those of other Western countries, Italian media often employ the term “clash of civilisation” [conflitto di civiltà] to refer to the relationship between “Islam” and the “West”. The Muslim world is simplistically described, and perceived, as a monolithic reality. Its representation by media ranging from that of an irrational to that of an intolerant religion.
The expression “clash of civilization” was especially used in September 2006, after that Pope’s lectio magistralis at Regensburg University caused vigorous protests to take place in the Muslim world. Benedict XVI seemed to present the Christian God as the only rational divinity, and Islam as an irrational religion. After international Muslim communities asked for an official apology, the Pope held a meeting with the ambassadors from Islamic States to the Holy Site, and the representatives of the Italian Muslim communities, to explain his words.
This paper analyzes the way in which this event was presented by the Italian media – including right-wing, mainstream and catholic media - with the aim of understanding the official reaction of the Vatican (as reported by the Osservatore Romano), the Italian Catholic Church (as reported by Avvenire), and the Italian public opinion.


media studies; Islam; communication

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS532011402