Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Is The Sun's "1 in 5 Muslims" Headline Really That Far-Fetched?

The Sun newspaper has taken huge flak for the front-page headline above, printed yesterday, claiming that 1 in 5 British Muslims have sympathy for Islamic State jihadis.

The story has been widely derided and mocked on social media, but is it really so outrageous? The Mirror criticised the Sun's headline on the basis that the poll in question, carried out by Survation, asked whether Muslims had "sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria".

The "1 in 5" figure is drawn from the total of 5.3% of respondents saying that they had "a lot" of sympathy, and 14.5% that they had "some" sympathy. That adds up to 19.8%, and the number rises to 25% in the 18-34 age bracket.

The Mirror says that this doesn't prove anything, because the poll does not specifically mention ISIS or jihadis anywhere. Indeed, as it goes on:

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.

This is where the criticism of the headline gets somewhat silly. Firstly, I don't buy this idea that the Muslims who were asked the question about "fighters" in Syria didn't really know what it meant. We all know who the "fighters" in Syria are, and if no particular group is specified, we all know which ones we instinctively think of. And it ain't the Kurds.

But the bigger issue here is that contrary to the Mirror's spin, ALL of the groups it mentions above - with the exception of the Kurds - are actually jihadist organisations.

The Free Syrian Army massacres Christians and have collaborated with Islamic State.

The Islamic Front is another jihadist group that is virtually indistinguishable from al-Qaeda.

Jaish al-Sham has been disbanded for over a year, and just before then, over 1000 of its members defected to Islamic State.

It is also laughable that the Mirror could, with a straight face, claim that the Army of Mujahideen and the Muslim Brotherhood and are not jihadist groups, when the first tells us it is jihadist in its name, and the latter was founded by a jihadist preacher, Hasan al-Banna, and its leading ideologues from Sayyid Qutb to Yusuf al-Qaradawi were and are jihadists.

In light of all this, who exactly would any non-jihadist "fighters" in Syria, opposed to Assad, be fighting for?

On top of this, we have other polling data from British Muslims to contend with. A 2006 survey reported that as many as 40% would like to see the British legal system replaced with sharia; a detailed study by the Policy Exchange think tank in 2007 found, among other things, that around half of the Muslims surveyed support polygamy, roughly 40% support the execution of those who leave Islam, and 39% believe that sharia should not be reformed in order to conform to British law or modern human rights standards;  and a 2010 cable from the US Embassy in London revealed that in a study of 600 Muslim students in 30 British universities, not only did 40% support sharia, but one third of them also believed that killing in the name of religion was justified. A quarter of British Muslims also believe that killing someone for insulting Islam can be justified.

With all of this in mind, is it really so outlandish to believe that the 1 in 5 figure might have at least a degree of truth to it? Maybe not all of the Muslims surveyed necessarily support the bombing of people at football stadiums, or the beheading of aid workers, and things of this nature, but it seems entirely possible that they may sympathise with the concept of the caliphate and the application of sharia, to name but two things.

I'm not saying we should make any firm conclusions based on this poll, which is after all published in what can only be described as a newspaper for degenerates. But the reaction to The Sun's headline demonstrates yet again that the chimeric "Vast Majority of Peaceful Muslims" is a sacred cow of the British media commentariat, despite remaining unproven, regardless of this particular survey's validity.

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