Media Outlets Desperate To Debunk Poll Showing 540,000 UK Muslims Have ‘Sympathy’ With Syrian Jihadis

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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A poll in The United Kingdom’s Sun newspaper has sparked a furious debate over the level of support for ISIS and has sent several media outlets into a tailspin of denial, questioning the poll’s methodology.

The most controversial part of the poll was a figure showing 20 percent of respondents had sympathy with those who left the UK to fight in Syria, with five percent saying they had “a lot of sympathy” and 15 percent said they had “some sympathy.” There are 2.7 million Muslims living in the UK.

The number of British Muslims who have sympathy for those who go and take up arms in Syria has actually fallen from 28 percent back in March. The results also mean that a massive majority of Muslims in the UK have no sympathy for those who go to fight in Syria whatsoever.

The Survation poll indicated that Muslims were well-integrated and comfortable with modern British society, with just three percent telling the pollster Survation that it “is not important for British Muslims to integrate into British society.”

But the headline The Sun ran with Monday morning set the cat among the pigeons with left wing British media outlets scrambling to the debunk the poll. The Sun’s front page read “1 in 5 British Muslims have sympathy for jihadis, poll reveals.”

The Guardian, The Mirror, and The Independent were the first on the scene to downplay the Survation results. All of the publications queried that the survey didn’t mention jihadis or ISIS by name, postulating that respondents could have sympathy with those who had gone to fight against ISIS and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

The Guardian took issue with the term “sympathy” and said it was “open to misinterpretation.” The Independent claims “the fact that respondents were allowed to say they had ‘a lot’ or ‘some’ sympathy rather than a forced choice between ‘some’ or ‘none’ is significant.”

The Independent also questioned whether it was even possible to accurately poll British Muslims at all, with a sample size of 1,000 people in an online survey and given that Muslims make up only five percent of the UK’s population; notably, the poll was conducted via telephone and not online as the Independent claimed. The sample size is also fairly common in the polling industry.

But the Survation poll wouldn’t be the first to show worrying attitudes among a sizeable portion of Britain’s Muslim population. After the attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, polling company Comres found that 27 percent of British Muslims had “some sympathy” with the attack which left 12 people dead.

Almost a quarter of Muslims disagreed with the statement acts of violence against those who publish images of the Prophet Muhammad can “never be justified.” Survation’s poll comes a little over a week after terrorists slaughtered 130 people in a series of co-ordinated attacks in Paris.

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