According to a Brookings report from last January:
- 40% of Americans believe most Muslims oppose ISIS.
- 14% think most Muslims support ISIS.
- And 44% (the plurality) of Americans believe Muslim views are evenly balanced on the issue.
American perceptions of Muslims’ support for the Islamic State are all over the map. And you only have to search Google for “how many muslims support isis” to see why.
The range of answers to this question reported by the media is enormous, partly because much of it comes from online polls, social media sentiment analysis, and other non-scientific / unrepresentative studies. Additionally, the way the subject gets reported is often very misleading.
Last month, the International Business Times cited a study from Pew Research Center concluding ISIS is “almost universally hated.” American Thinker summarized the same study saying, “between 63 million and 287 million ISIS supporters in just 11 countries.”
What the Muslim world actually thinks of ISIS
Looking only at scientific opinion polls, the results are actually very consistent.
The figures in the map below come from surveys conducted by six different research organizations, covering a combined 20 countries in the Muslim world.
In the Muslim world, support for ISIS is low across the board.
In 15 of the 20 countries shown, support for ISIS is in the single digits. And with the exception of Syria, in no country is it greater than 15%.
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- Pew Research Center: Nigeria, Malasia, Senegal, Pakistan, Turkey, Burkina Faso, Palestine, Indonesia, Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon
- Washington Institute / David Pollock: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and Egypt
- ORB International: Iraq and Syria
- Center for Strategic and International Studies: Yemen and Libya
- Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies: Tunisia
- Zogby: Iran
All surveys were conducted prior to the recent attacks in Paris and Mali. A list of the specific questions asked in each survey, as well as the answers that constituted a “favorable view of ISIS,” is posted here.
I'm fascinated by data visualization and the ways that data is transforming our understanding of the world. I spend a lot of time with my face buried in Excel, and when I find something interesting I write about it here and as a contributor for the Huffington Post.
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