“Jihadi tourism”—in which Westerners go to Syria or Iraq to fight for ISIS—has become a serious problem for some European countries. A new poll shows just how disturbingly high level of support for ISIS might be in France. British polling company ICM released a new poll this week that surveyed 1,000 people each in Britain, Germany, and France on their attitudes toward ISIS. Here were the results from France, via Haaretz:
7% of French residents aged 18-24 support IS, compared to just 4% in the U.K. and 3% in Germany. Support slid to 22% in the 25-34 year-old category and 20% in the 35-44 year-old category. ICM reported that the biggest opposition to France was among those aged 45 to 54.Overall, French support averaged 15%, compared to 7% in Britain and only 2% in Germany. Support in Britain for IS was highest at 11% among respondents between the ages of 35 and 44.
The poll was paid for by Russia Today, hardly a reputable source. But it chose a legitimate polling company to conduct the survey, so the numbers appear to be trustworthy, at least initially. If accurate, the finding of 15 percent support represents a major challenge for officials aiming to confront home grown European jihadism. Moreover, the poll highlights how important it is for all moderate Muslim leaders to visibly and loudly condemn ISIS. Western jihadis are a minority, but they will inevitably color people’s perception of Islam. Vehement denunciations of this trend by other Muslims can help undo the damage that polls like this do to Islam’s image. Given that many Jihadis aren’t actually that religious, pious, tolerant Muslims can put forward a better image of what faithful Islam looks like.