The Sun newspaper’s Monday front page leads with the claim that one in five British Muslims have some sympathy with people travelling abroad to fight on the side of jihadis in Syria.
There are some very big problems with this story and the way it has interpreted a poll.
Yes indeed – for example, the poll does not mention jihadis but asks whether respondents have “sympathy” with young Muslims who go to join “fighters” in Syria. “Fighters” could include, for example, Kurds who are fighting against the terrorists. Alas, the poll is too vague to make that distinction.
“Sympathy”, as the article states, is a very broad term and does not necessarily imply full-blooded support. People who say they have sympathy with something might be saying they understand why someone has come to do something, even if they think it is wrong.
Look at the “international cycle of stupidity” that This Blog publicised a couple of days ago.
See the part that says “The behaviour of the allies angers the people whose lives have been destroyed” and the next part, saying “Some of these angry people are radicalised by extremist groups”? This writer has sympathy for people in that position – although as everybody knows, I do not condone violence in any way.
And there are problems with the poll’s methodology – it asks whether people have “a lot” of sympathy or “some” when it could just ask for a “yes/no” answer to the question, “Do you sympathise?” Any poll is likely to see a disproportionate number of votes for a moderate (in the dictionary meaning of the term, rather than that being used by Labour Party right-wingers) choice and this inflates the apparent number of sympathisers.
But perhaps the biggest problem with the poll – and the part that marks it out as more of the usual Sun silliness – is the fact that non-Muslims would provide similar responses if you asked them the same questions.
Meanwhile, hate crimes against innocent Muslims in the UK have increased by 300 per cent since the Paris attacks – mostly against girls and women wearing traditional Islamic clothing – perhaps because they are the easiest to pick out and the least likely to fight back.
The Sun‘s poll report seems likely to increase such crimes.
But then, we knew that already.
Look at the increase in hate crime against the disabled that has been fuelled by unsympathetic media reports.
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