WASHINGTON, May 26, 2015 – AlJazeera.net, the Al Jazeera Arabic media network web site, recently conducted an online poll asking the question, “Do you support the organizing victories of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria?” Thirty-eight thousand people across the Arab world responded to the poll and a shocking 81 percent of those polled came back with an answer of “Yes.”
This poll should be taken with a grain of salt for many reasons. First, Al Jazeera has a well-documented track record of sympathizing with radical Islamic extremists. The network is run by the royal family of Qatar, which has been accused several times of directly funding the Islamic State. A similar poll was released by Al Jazeera following the tragic events of 9/11, and 50 percent of respondents voiced support for Osama bin Laden. Words like “terrorism” and “insurgency” are rarely mentioned on the network and are often replaced with “resistance” or “struggle.”
The second reason to question this poll is that it took place online. It is very difficult to track any background information when surveying people online and it is nearly impossible to prevent anyone from voting more than once or from sharing it with ideologically similar friends.
However, despite the possibility that 81 percent might not be the exact figure, it is still surprisingly high. Even if the poll is off by 30 percent in terms of how most Muslims in the Arab world feel, that still means that half the people in the Middle East are sympathetic toward ISIS. That would completely contradict the popular claim that the “vast majority” of Muslims are peace-loving people who abhor terrorism.
President Obama even went so far as to say that 99.9 percent of Muslims are “moderate.” If this recent Al Jazeera poll is even remotely an accurate glimpse into the Muslim world, it would render President Obama’s statement mathematically impossible. If the 81 percent figure is off by a whopping 75 percent, even that would call into question Obama’s sweeping generalization.
To say that 99.9 percent of Muslim reject terrorism, as the president stated, has become almost asinine at this point. Countless polls have been conducted in the Middle East that have all come up with the same consensus that terrorism is not overwhelmingly rejected as a way to solve problems.
In Jordan, 72 percent of the population supports Hamas, which, as most people know, is a ruthless terrorist organization responsible for the death of thousands of innocent people. In Egypt, that number is 48 percent.
In Egypt, Malaysia, and Lebanon at least 15 percent of the population believes that suicide bombings are sometimes justified.
In Turkey, 86 percent of the population has a negative view of Israel, which is 1 percent higher than the number of people who have a negative view of the Islamic State.
Eight percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people have a favorable view of the Taliban.
The list goes on and on.
When compared to the overall number of Muslims on the planet, which is roughly 1.6 billion, the 38,000 people in this poll might not seem like a big deal. However, not only is 81 percent an extremely high number that is well above any standard margin of error, the Al Jazeera audience is estimated at around 40 million. Based on that number, this poll suggests that over 30 million Muslims in Arab countries are sympathetic to ISIS, which is a truly startling number.
Every article published and every news story issued lately has been required to include the tired qualifier that “not all Muslims support violence” and that “most Muslims are peaceful people,” and while that is certainly true, it has become almost impossible to deny that an enormously high number of Muslims in Arab speaking countries are sympathetic to radical jihad.