A poll is doing the rounds which comes to a shocking conclusion. But here’s why all is not as simple as it seems
Nearly one in five British muslims have “sympathy for jihadis”, according to a poll in this morning’s Sun newspaper – but is that true?
It’s a shocking statistic, if it is true, and many are asking how so many of Britain’s mainstream Muslim population could support the poisonous ideology of ISIS and the atrocities they commit.
But, as you may have guessed, that’s not the whole story.
The data from the survey, released this morning by pollsters Survation, comes pretty far short of backing up the assertion made in the punchy headline.
Here’s why all is not as it seems.
The poll doesn’t actually ask whether people support ISIS, or even jihadis
The poll data, released by Survation this morning, includes the actual question which was asked of 1,003 British Muslims.
Here’s what the question was:
Which of the following statements is closest to your view?
I have a lot of sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria
I have some sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria
I have no sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria
The one in five figure is drawn from the total of 5.3% of respondents choosing the first answer, and 14.5% the second.
Why does that matter?
The Sun has taken the results of this question to mean 19.8% of British Muslims have “some sympathy” for jihadis.
And the commentary accompanying the poll result implies that support for “jihadis” is support for ISIS.
Sun writer Anila Baig writes: “It beggars belief that there are such high numbers saying that they agree with what these scumbags are doing in Syria.
“We’ve all seen the pictures of how the innocent Yazidi girls are treated, how homosexuals are thrown off tall buildings. It’s utterly abhorrent.”
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that ISIS aren’t the only group fighting in Syria.
In fact, they’re one of dozens of rebel groups fighting against the Assad regime (and each other) in the country’s increasingly messy civil war.
As well as ISIS, there are certainly other groups who could be described as jihadist – notably the al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra front.
But there’s also the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, the Army of Mujahideen, Jaish al-Sham, the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria, as well as various Kurdish forces.
Many Brits who have travelled to Syria to fight have joined these other groups – not ISIS. And while some of the other groups certainly have a jihadist contingent, most are focused on removing President Bashar Al-Assad from power, rather than the creation of a fanatical, fundamentalist Islamic caliphate in the region.
So, as the saying goes: “I think you’ll find it’s more complicated than that.”
Many, if not most of the British muslims who were surveyed will understand that the picture in Syria is not black and white. It’s a fractured image with many shades of grey.
But what is clear is that the survey does not say what the Sun says it does.
That adds up to 19.8% – and the number rises to 25% in the 18-34 age bracket.
But the poll doesn’t actually mention jihadis anywhere..
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