One in seven young adults in Britain has “warm feelings” towards the Islamic State terror group, a new survey has revealed. According to a poll by Populus, 14 percent of under-25s in Britain view the group in a positive light, with 12 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds also thinking positively of the group.
Pollsters asked 2,000 British adults to rank a variety of nations and terrorist organisations on a scale of one to 10 according to how “warmly and favourably” they felt about them.
They found that a tenth of all Londoners and one in 12 Scots gave Islamic State a score of between six and 10, implying a level of sympathy with the group. However, the terror group is most popular with people aged under 25, with 14 percent rating them between six and 10.
Support for the group was also relatively high in Wales and the West Midlands, although is at its highest in London. Those over 45 were extremely unlikely to sympathise with the group, while the vast majority of the public overall have a negative opinion of the group with 88 percent ranking them zero to four.
Jonathan Githens-Mazer, an associate professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, told the Times that some of Islamic State’s support could be from a small but significant number of non-Muslims who feel disillusioned with the British government and foreign policy.
He said that under-35s are especially sceptical of Britain’s political elite and were instead turning to blogs promoting “anti-political” ideas. He said: “There’s a big trend here, which is what happens to the state — and does the state matter any more? It fits in with British scepticism about the EU.”
Under-35s were also most likely to have a favourable view of Hamas and Hezbollah, while holding a bad view of Britain and America.
Dr Clive Field, who is director of the British Religion in Numbers project at the University of Manchester, added: “It does go some way toward explaining why we have actually got five British citizens going away looking for jihad every week and we have got at least 500 over there already.”
He also said that the poll shows there is an “admiration” for Islamic State’s aggression, rather than support for its aim to create an Islamic caliphate.
Sociologist Marat Shterin also said that it was unlikely so many young people actually support Islamic State’s aims, and that it was due more to an ignorance of foreign affairs, distrust of the mainstream media and rebelliousness against the “establishment”.
“I do not expect most of those who expressed a degree of ‘support’ for Isis really agree with its ideology and politics,” he said.