Poll Showing 20 Percent Muslim ‘Sympathy For Jihadis’ Lands Record Complaints

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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A poll published in The Sun newspaper showing 20 percent of British Muslims have “sympathy” with those who leave the United Kingdom to fight in Syria has received a record number of complaints.

The British tabloid ran with the Monday morning headline “1 in 5 British Muslims have sympathy for jihadis, poll reveals.”

The figure stems from a UK company Survation poll showing 5.3 percent of British Muslims have “a lot of sympathy” with young Muslims who go to fight in Syria while 14.5 percent said they had “some sympathy. 

The Sun weathered a massive backlash both on Twitter under the hashtag #1in5Muslims and from other media outlets for the poll’s findings

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) received 450 complaints following the story’s publication. The complaints came for the most part under a clause of its editors’ code, which states editors “must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.”

The Sun defended the article saying it had “published the poll’s findings clearly and accurately, including the questions in full.” A host of media outlets published articles questioning the poll’s methodology and The Sun’s interpretation.

The Independent, Mirror and Guardian ran stories noting 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 claimed “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.” (RELATED: Media Outlets Desperate To Debunk Poll Showing 540,000 UK Muslims Have ‘Sympathy’ With Syrian Jihadis)

 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.

Survation defended the poll saying:

There is a distinction between the work we do and how clients chose to present this work. Survation do not support or endorse the way in which this poll’s findings have been interpreted. Neither the headline nor the body text of articles published were discussed with or approved by Survation prior to publication.

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Guy Bentley