MDI Comment: On Monday 23rd November 2015, the UK tabloid newspaper, The Sun, published the results of what many considered to be a poorly executed survey on its front page cover exclaiming that ‘1 in 5 Muslims sympathy for Jihadis’, next to a picture of the infamous ISIS executioner nick-named ‘Jihadi-John’. It seemed to many that the Sun was implying that 1 in 5 Muslims have sympathy with ISIS. The front page caused outrage amongst the Muslim community and many concerned non-Muslims who could see what was perceived as an obvious incitement to hatred and fear of Muslims.
Many believed that the Sun was using sensationalism to sell its newspapers at the cost of endangering the Muslim community further in the wake of heightened Islamophobia following the recent Paris attacks by ISIS. The Sun newspaper is the most widely read newspaper in print in the UK (as of 2014).
Many other UK newspapers reacted to the Sun by admirably analysing and exposing the false statistics and survey results behind the Sun’s survey. The questions asked of Muslims in the Sun’s survey mentioned nothing of ISIS, terrorism or even the word ‘jihadi’. It simply asked Muslim respondents whether or not they had sympathy for Muslims going to Syria to fight…full stop. The question is open ended, it could refer to people joining the FSA or the other non-proscribed rebel groups who are fighting Bashar al Assad and believe they are defending the people of Syria from a tyrant.
However, like many surveys and statistics cited by Islamophobes and ‘counter-extremists’, they never take into account a non-Muslim ‘control group’. A ‘control group’ is a group of people who do not share the same characteristics as the group whose opinions you want to measure. A control group gives surveys an idea of what a baseline, or ‘wider society’ view is – so that they can compare the results of the group they are looking at with.
Hilariously, it turns out that previous surveys have been conducted this year that show that in many cases UK NON-MUSLIMS HAVE MORE SYMPATHY for Muslims going to fight in Syria than UK Muslims!
The article below is by the Independent newspaper which discusses the other surveys, puts to shame all who the Islamophobes and ‘counter-Extremists’ who jumped on the Sun newspapers sensationalist bandwagon. The London Newspaper ‘The Metro’ also published an article yesterday pointing out the same observation.
Additionally, the survey group behind the poll commissioned by the Sun newspaper, Survation, has now distanced themselves from the Sun’s depiction and ‘interpretation’ of their results’. One of the people who worked as an interviewer for carrying out the poll was keen to mention: ‘Every single person I spoke to for more than five minutes condemned the terrorist attacks carried out in the name of Islam.’.
The Sun tried to explain its ‘1 in 5 Muslims’ poll and just made things worse
The Sun‘s editorial today attempted to justify a front page which recieved anunprecedented amount of complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso).
Today’s editorial read:
It is shocking and depressing that even after the Paris slaughter one in five British Muslims we surveyed still has sympathy with young people who fly to Syria to become jihadist killers.
Some on the political Left claim ours was a ‘rogue’ poll. In fact the numbers expressing sympathy for jihadists were down on similar surveys by the BBC and Sky after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
That should be welcomed. But all three polls reveal an undeniable truth:
Among British Muslims, a minority – but a substantial one – appear sympathetic to a death cult which is among the most evil in history.
Once we all accept that, Britain is better placed to tackle it.
Disregarding the ambiguous phrasing of the question, which has already been debunked, let’s compare some data that the Sun chose not to prioritise.
As the Telegraph‘s Asa Bennett pointed out, the Sun/Survation poll results for 18-34 year olds compared interestingly with that of a Sky News/Survation poll from March, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks:
Muslims were also less likely to have a lot of sympathy than non-Muslims in March, which as the Sun‘s newest poll has helpfully and correctly pointed out, is a sentiment which has since decreased in the Muslim community:
Recent reports have also questioned the methodology of the poll and whether it is statistically representative.
As the Guardian reports, the sample was determined by filtering Survation’s database of 42 million profiles against a list of “1,500 Muslim surnames”.
Prospective respondents were then asked on the phone whether they were Muslim or not, before taking the poll.
It is also reported that the the Sun‘s poll was carried out by Survation, rather than YouGov as usual, because YouGov did not wish to take part.
A YouGov spokesperson said:
To survey Britain’s Muslim population, particularly at a time of such heightened sensitivities, requires the kind of time, care, and therefore cost, that is beyond a newspaper’s budget.
Ipso has recorded 450 complaints for Monday’s front page, the most since the watchdog opened for business on 8 September 2014.