Bilal Rana

Thema: „Network of the Pure: Tracing Pro and Anti Islam Discourses in Social Media of Pakistan“

Brief Biodata

  • 2014- PhD, Faculty of Philosophy (Humanities), Germany
  • 2011 MPhil, Communication Studies, University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan
  • 2008 MS, Communication Studies, University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan
  • 2005 BA, University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

Doctoral Work

Internet technologies have revolutionized the human communication. Technological innovations are enhancing the scope of research dealing with the effects of the internet on society. Traditional Muslim societies in general and Pakistan, in particular, is experiencing this change in a different realm. Social media is giving voices to the marginalized segments of societies and challenging the existing power structures. Moderate voices have a new platform for critical discussion of religion. Traditional and extremist forces are using social media to reach out a larger audience. The meaning of blasphemy backed up by state and social conformity has lost its absolute power in social media. There is a huge body of literature available on the portrayal of Islam in media and about the usage of internet by the Muslim extremist. Social media nonetheless and its effects on an internal conflict within Islam is still not a priority research area. This study plans to investigate the conflict of moderate and extremist Islamic forces in social media. Pakistan being an Islamic republic with a strong blasphemy law can serve as a perfect example. The so-called war on terror and its effect on Pakistan and rise of militant Islam make Pakistan an appropriate case study. The Internet is changing the religious debates and the rules of assignation. New technologies equipped with emerging diversified content genres are redefining the Muslim public sphere in Pakistan. Famous social media platforms in Pakistan will be used to complete this study. A micro-level investigation will be conducted by using content analysis to gather and analyze the available content. A discourse analysis will be applied on the user’s comment for a comprehensive scrutiny. In order to understand the motives and effects of such discussions, in-depth interviews will be conducted by pointing out the key players and experts. The notion of public sphere will serve as a theoretical framework. Public sphere of Islam will be the specialized theoretical area that will guide this study. This study will fulfill the existing gap in the literature regarding the effect of the internet and intra-Islam debates, and enhance the scope of future research in this emerging area.


  • 2016 “Islam in social media: Towards a critical theoretical framework”, University Leipzig (Conference paper)
  • 2016 “One Islam? Diversity within Islam”, Gustav-Stresemann-Institute, Bad Bevensen (Workshop)
  • 2016 “Inequality in German academics”, Doctoral Forum of Heinrich-Böll- Stiftung , Berlin (Workshop)
  • 2016 “Muslims refugees and European right wing propaganda on internet”, University of Erfurt (Lecture)
  • 2016 Project Erfurt: Redefining war victims”, Berlin (Documentary Film)
  • 2015 “Bringing them to book: Pakistani Anti-Taliban voices on Facebook” (Book chapter In progress)
  • 2015 “The Social Ghazwa: Extremist and Counter-extremist Islamic discourses in Pakistani Social Media”,  XXI IAHR World Congress 2015, Germany
  • 2015 “The Islamic bomb: Nuclear orientalism as a CDA methodology”, XXI IAHR World Congress 2015, Germany
  • 2014 “Racism in Pakistan”, Daily Pakistan,
  • 2014 “Corruption as a calamity in Pakistan”, Daily Pakistan,
  • 2014 “Photo journalist as a story teller”, Daily Nai Baat Pakistan (Magazine Article)
  • 2014 “Good things about Pakistan”, Daily Nai Baat Pakistan (Newspaper Article)
  • 2014 “Don´t be Illegal”, Daily Nai Baat Pakistan (Newspaper Article)
  • 2014 “Germany and Pakistan”,  Daily Insaaf Pakistan (Newspaper Column)
  • 2013 “Pakistan elsker Taliban”, Aften Posten Norway,
  • 2012 “New media and extremism in Pakistan”, University of Passau, Germany (Lecture)
  • 2011 “Environmental news in English Press of Pakistan”,  ICMR, Pakistan (Conference Paper) 

Academic Experience

  • 2010–2012   Lecturer in media studies Superior University, Lahore, Pakistan
  • 2009–2010   Visiting lecturer and trainer in media studies superior University, Lahore, Pakistan

Professional Experience

  • 2012-  Overseas Special Correspondent Daily Nai Baat (Newspaper ), Lahore, Pakistan
  • 7/2015-9/2015 IT support executive, IBM Erfurt Germany
  • 2003–2008   Training Officer (English Communication, sales and customer relationship) AUA Technology, Lahore, Pakistan 


  • Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture Studies
  • Doctoral Representative General Assembly Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
  • Member Stipendiat*innen-Rat (Student Council) Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung


  • 2015- Doctoral fellow, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
  • 2011 Research exchange scholar, University of Oslo, Norway 

Research Interests

  • New media and Islamic extremism
  • New media and religion
  • Orientalism 
  • New media and digital public sphere
  • Critical Discourse analysis
  • Critical Religion
  • Netnography 

Contact Information


University of Erfurt, Faculty of Philosophy (Humanities), Room: LG 4 / E 38, Nordhäuser Straße 63, 99089 Erfurt, Germany