Sunday, November 02, 2014

02-Nov-14: How well does "Democracy is for infidels" resonate among Europeans?

"They kill Muslims", ISIS preacher's son responds. "The infidels
of Europe, all the infidels
."[Image Source]
The German news magazine site Spiegel Online currently has an interview with an Islamic State operative who goes by the name Abu Sattar
around 30 years old and wears a thick, black beard that reaches down to his chest. His top lip is shaved as is his head and he wears a black robe that stretches all the way to the floor. He keeps a copy of the Koran, carefully wrapped in black cloth, in his black leather bag.
The article says he "recruits". This brief extract gives a sense of what the marketing-savvy ISIS people want the world to hear:
SPIEGEL: There are an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today. Many are very democratic, some are liberal while others are conservative and, just imagine, there are heterosexual Muslims and homosexual Muslims among them. Most of them do not share your ideology. But you act as though there were only one kind of Muslim, namely those who think like you do. That is absurd!
Abu Sattar: Democracy is for infidels. A real Muslim is not a democrat because he doesn't care about the opinions of majorities and minorities don't interest him. He is only interested in what Islam says. Furthermore, democracy is a hegemonic tool of the West and contrary to Islam. Why do you act as though the entire world needs democracy? And when it comes to homosexuality, the issue is clearly dealt with by the Koran. It says it is forbidden and should be punished...
SPIEGEL: In the golden age of Islam, there was music, dancing, painting, calligraphy and architecture. Yet you are propagating an Islam free of culture and art. It is time to discuss religious content and find a modern interpretation, don't you think.
Abu Sattar: It is not up to us to interpret God's word. There have been repeated errors and lapses in Muslim societies. That which you refer to as the "golden age" was one of them...
SPIEGEL: You constantly speak of fighting. Do Muslims not constantly speak of Islam being a religion of peace?
Abu Sattar: It is when people submit to Allah. Allah is merciful and forgives those who follow him.
We mentioned yesterday (here) the stunningly high degree of support views like this person's have among the British, but it's certainly not only them. A poll released during August 2014 [reported in Newsweek] examined attitudes towards ISIS among Europeans.
One in six French citizens sympathises with the Islamist militant group ISIS, also known as Islamic State, a poll released this week found. The poll of European attitudes towards the group, carried out by ICM for Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya, revealed that 16% of French citizens have a positive opinion of ISIS. This percentage increases among younger respondents, spiking at 27% for those aged 18-24... Newsweek’s France Correspondent, Anne-Elizabeth Moutet, was unsurprised by the news. “This is the ideology of young French Muslims from immigrant backgrounds,” she said, “unemployed to the tune of 40%, who’ve been deluged by satellite TV and internet propaganda.” She pointed to a correlation between support for ISIS and rising anti-Semitism in France, adding that “these are the same people who torch synagogues”.[Newsweek, "16% of French Citizens Support ISIS, Poll Finds", August 26, 2014]
Positive attitudes to ISIS in Germany "showed less divergence, remaining between 3% and 4% for all age groups" [Newsweek]

Compare this with Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia - the Arab states who are now partnered with the US in combat with ISIS forces in the military sense. A recent New Republic analysis [graphics here] based on polls conducted in September suggested
that ISIS has almost no popular support in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon—even among Sunnis. Among Egyptians, a mere 3 percent express a favorable opinion of ISIS. In Saudi Arabia, the figure is slightly higher: 5 percent rate ISIS positively. In Lebanon, not a single Christian, Shiite, or Druze respondent viewed ISIS favorably; and even among Lebanon's Sunnis, that figure is almost equally low at 1 percent. Nevertheless, there is a real difference between almost no support and no support at all. Since 3 percent of adult Egyptians say they approve of ISIS, that is nearly 1.5 million people. For Saudis, the 5 percent of adult nationals who support ISIS means over half a million people. And even in tiny Lebanon, 1 percent of adult Sunnis equals a few thousand ISIS sympathizers. In any of these places, this is enough to harbor at least a few cells of serious troublemakers.
Back in July 2014, there were reports showing a completely different trend among Saudi Arabians, described in "Saudi poll to reveal public’s level of sympathy for IS":
The Sakina Campaign plans to carry out a scientific survey to determine the position of the Saudi public on the "caliphate" announced by the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. This comes after the results of an opinion poll of Saudis were released on social networking sites, claiming that 92% of the target group believes that "IS conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law." [Al-Monitor, July 2014] 
Despite some searching, we have not yet found any indication on-line that the Sakina ("which operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Da'wah and Guidance in Saudi Arabia" - Al-Monitor) poll was done or its results published. We will keep looking.

No comments: