THE inhabitants of predominantly Muslim-populated countries all over the world are repulsed by the actions of Islamic State (IS), its rapid acquisition of territory, and its capacity to commit atrocities far beyond the Middle East, data released by the Pew Research Center suggests.
The percentage of those approving of IS reached double figures in only three of the 11 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia where polls were conducted.
In all but one of these countries, a clear majority of people questioned expressed negative views of IS. In Lebanon, Pew data says, “almost every person surveyed who gave an opinion had an unfavourable view of IS, including 99 per cent with a very unfavourable opinion. Distaste toward IS was shared by Lebanese Sunni Muslims (98 per cent unfavourable) and 100 per cent of Shia Muslims and Lebanese Christians.”
IS terrorists earlier this month carried out a double suicide-bombing in Beirut, killing 44 people and injuring dozens more (News, 20 November).
Jordan, like Lebanon, shares a border with Syria, and is host to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. Of Jordanians questioned in the survey, 94 per cent spoke out against IS, while just three per cent expressed approval of the group. In Israel, the figures were 97 per cent and one per cent respectively.
In the Palestinian territories, 84 per cent of those questioned expressed negative views of IS. The figure in Gaza, governed by the Islamist Hamas movement, was even higher at 92 per cent against.
Support for IS was expressed by eight per cent in the West Bank, and five per cent in Gaza. In Turkey, Pew found that 73 per cent spoke out against IS, and eight per cent were in favour of it.
The biggest expression of support for IS, in all the countries in the survey, was in Nigeria (14 per cent), while only 66 per cent of Nigerians questioned expressed unfavourable views. In Malaysia and Senegal, support for IS was measured at 11 per cent, with about 60 per cent denouncing it, and 25 per cent or more undecided.
In Pakistan only a minority (28 per cent) expressed disapproval of IS. The number supporting it was nine per cent; 62 per cent were undecided.
Although IS has failed so far to attract mass support from Muslims around the world, the point where the group is unable to attract new members is still far off. But the recent atrocities in Egypt, Lebanon, France, and Mali have galvanised the international community into seeking common action.
As well as the intensification of air strikes against IS targets, the UN Security Council has closed ranks, passing unanimously a resolution condemning “in the strongest terms the horrifying terrorist attacks” perpetrated by IS.
The resolution calls on states “to combat by all means this unprecedented threat to international peace and security”, and to eradicate IS’s safe havens in Iraq and Syria. Governments are also urged to ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism “comply with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, refugee law, and humanitarian law”.