November 17, 2015

In nations with significant Muslim populations, much disdain for ISIS

Views of ISIS Overwhelmingly NegativeRecent attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have once again brought terrorism and Islamic extremism to the forefront of international relations. According to newly released data that the Pew Research Center collected in 11 countries with significant Muslim populations, people from Nigeria to Jordan to Indonesia overwhelmingly expressed negative views of ISIS.

One exception was Pakistan, where a majority offered no definite opinion of ISIS. The nationally representative surveys were conducted as part of the Pew Research Center’s annual global poll in April and May this year.

In no country surveyed did more than 15% of the population show favorable attitudes toward Islamic State. And in those countries with mixed religious and ethnic populations, negative views of ISIS cut across these lines.

In Lebanon, a victim of one of the most recent attacks, almost every person surveyed who gave an opinion had an unfavorable view of ISIS, including 99% with a very unfavorable opinion. Distaste toward ISIS was shared by Lebanese Sunni Muslims (98% unfavorable) and 100% of Shia Muslims and Lebanese Christians.

Israelis (97%) and Jordanians (94%) were also strongly opposed to ISIS as of spring 2015, including 91% of Israeli Arabs. And 84% in the Palestinian territories had a negative view of ISIS, both in the Gaza Strip (92%) and the West Bank (79%). 

Six-in-ten or more had unfavorable opinions of ISIS in a diverse group of nations, including Indonesia, Turkey, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Malaysia and Senegal.

Views of ISIS by Religion, Ethnicity and RegionIn Nigeria, there was somewhat more support for ISIS (14% favorable) compared with other countries, but attitudes differed sharply by religious affiliation. An overwhelming number of Nigerian Christians (71%) had an unfavorable view of ISIS, as did 61% of Nigerian Muslims. However, 20% of Nigerian Muslims had a favorable view of ISIS when the poll was conducted in the spring of this year. The group Boko Haram in Nigeria, which has been conducting a terrorist campaign in the country for years, is affiliated with ISIS, though the two are considered separate entities.

Only 28% in Pakistan had an unfavorable view of ISIS, and a majority of Pakistanis (62%) had no opinion on the extremist group.

While we did not ask people in Western nations about their views of ISIS, half or more of people in 15 mostly Western countries said they were very concerned about ISIS as an international threat. In France, the target of multiple coordinated attacks in Paris last week, 71% said before the attacks that they were very concerned about the ISIS threat. Similar shares of the public in other nations also expressed serious concern, including 77% of Spanish, 70% of Germans, 69% of Italians and 68% of Americans. In Lebanon and Jordan, nations that are taking in refugees from the ISIS conflict in Syria and whose people have been victims of mass terrorist incidents, 84% and 62% also said they were very concerned about the group.

General concern about Islamic extremism has been growing in many Western and predominantly Muslim nations surveyed since earlier in the decade. And as a reaction to this threat, there was widespread support for U.S. military actions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria from most of the countries surveyed in the spring, including majorities in Israel (84%), France (81%), the U.S. (80%), Lebanon (78%), Jordan (77%), the UK (66%) and Germany (62%).

Note: See here for topline results on views of ISIS in these 11 nations and methodology.

Topics: Europe, Terrorism, Religious Extremism, Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam

  1. Photo of Jacob Poushter

    is a senior researcher focusing on global attitudes at Pew Research Center.


  1. Grilled iPhone2 years ago

    People in Pakistan actually hate the Islamic extremists more than this faulty “Research” is trying make you believe.Majority of Pakistanis don’t even know what the hell is ISIS.

    1. Leo Daniel Ruckman1 year ago

      How do you know the majority of Pakistanis don’t know what ISIS is?

      1. Anonymous1 year ago

        i am from Pakistan and i think they didn’t even conduct survey over here because People over here hate ISIS Taliban or any other extremist group

  2. Doho Doho2 years ago

    5% of christians in burkina faso has favorable view to isis …..!!!!!!!!
    7% of christians in nigeria has favorable view to isis….!!!!!!!!!
    65% of buddhist in malaysia has favorable view to isis ….!!!!!!

    WHAT DOES THAT MEAN…..???????

    1. Leo Daniel Ruckman1 year ago


    2. Dahliah BM1 year ago

      In the screenshot, it also stated that more Muslims as compared to other non-Muslims in the countries view ISIS unfavourably

  3. Patrick2 years ago

    But we are making immigration decisions. We cannot have 1 out of 10 or 20 immigrants in a given pool be terrorist sympathizers.. And ISIS is a cult of mass-murder. And that means that the 5-11% range of favorability represents a huge risk. I do NOT agree with Trump’s proposal, but in light of the data, it’s not unreasonable. The alternative would be to identify countries with significant support. Your poll indicates that that would get to about the same place, without saying it.

    1. Eric Hadley-Ives2 years ago

      That’s why it’s important to screen immigrants and even visitors if they are coming from a society that doesn’t have a reciprocal visa-free visitor entry policy with the USA. The question isn’t whether we should just let in a sample of would-be immigrants from a population where 5% or 15% say they support ISIS; the question is whether our screening processes will be able to only allow in persons who belong to the 60%-99% of the population that dislikes ISIS, and who also have no ISIS-supporting immediate family members they would bring after them.

    2. mohammed kalefa1 year ago

      Yeah bu it makes no sense to me so man people die from smoking and gun violence but we completely ignore that even though more people have probably died of smoking in us alone compared to terrorist attacks worldwide

  4. Lee Han2 years ago


    Population of Nigeria 173M from 2013.
    27% have a favorable support of ISIS.
    27% of 173M = 46M people who support ISIS.

    Add it all up my friends…

  5. Lee Han2 years ago

    Do people even do math?
    Let’s look at the data behind what they’re saying here…

    On the top 6 countries with the most Muslims, they did a survey to see whether people supported ISIS, didn’t support, or “don’t know.” <- What I find scariest is the "don't know" people…

    But we have to look further. If we do further research on other countries (not JUST the top 6), then we find that there are over 100M people in the world (easily) who support ISIS.

    Yes, so technically when they say only less than 1% of Muslims support ISIS they are statistically correct… but having over 100M people support ISIS means that… well, crap. You think about it. What can 100M supporters of a movement do?

    So far we've just seen a couple…

  6. jb johnson2 years ago

    There should be a breakdown by Sunni and Shia which was done in Lebanon but apparently no where else. This is a critical division since Shia will be highly likely to disfavor ISIS for reasons on long standing enmity between Sunni (ISIS) and Shia over the founding of Islam and not for, let’s say, theological reasons that would cause differences in behavior. Alos the country breakdown is not representative.

  7. Jake Taylor Creasey2 years ago

    When calculating the total number of the population of people who support isis (not including “i don’t know”) isn’t it about 16.5 million people? Not including other places.

    1. Jake Taylor+Creasey2 years ago

      Sorry i mean 63.5 million

  8. Chas2 years ago

    Left out Afghanistan – I wonder why?

    1. Sok2 years ago

      Hi. I am from Afghanistan. No one here knows what ISIS is. Kabul and major cities like Herat have high Shia populations and the Sunnis are at peace with them, they do not like ISIS if they even know what ISIS is. I live near Jalalabad 4 months a year(Taliban territory)… maybe 10 people in my village know what ISIS is.. most people in Kandahar province think US soliders are the Russians who are back from ’79.

      1. Coco2 years ago

        ISIS and ISIL has many proponent subgroups – one being the Taliban. So like you pointed out, this is a survey Asking about ISIS. This can skew the survey since the splinter groups like the Boko Haram for example are all the working with the same intent as ISIS/ ISIL. This increases the numbers even within the same countries already surveyed. They may not identify with ISIS. Sorry if this posts twice- I don’t think it posted the first time.

        1. Jack the critic2 years ago

          Isis and the taliban are not subgroups, in fact they hate each other, isis want control of afghanistan and the taliban want control of it, which is the main reason why they hate each other. Also even the taliban thinks that isis is too extreme and is driving muslims away. The two factions have had a few firefights with each other

  9. VultureTX2 years ago

    Exactly the survey claims Gaza is extemely anti ISIS, but HAMAS has been a weapons smuggling Partner of an ISIS Affliate (as in sworn to al bagdadi) in the Sinai now for years.

    And Lebanon is shiite, you only have to look at Hizbollah and the Shiite Muftis who ordered the deaths of Lebanese Chistian Phalangists to see that the Sunnis in Lebanons are the sheep.

    1. Jack the critic2 years ago

      Actually isis has said that they will topple hamas

  10. Catherine B.2 years ago

    Honestly, I am suspicious of the results of this particular survey, since Pew only interviewed about 1,000 people per country. Such a small sampling size is hardly representative of an entire population in a country, since quite a few of the countries surveyed have populations in the 10s or hundreds of millions.

    Then you have to take into account Pew’s own caveats, mentioned on their methodology page (…). “In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.”

    Add to these things the fact that the original article from NBC claimed the survey was of MUSLIMS-only, whereas Pew makes it clear that it did not focus on Muslims for their survey, but rather on people of all religions. So, we can take into account that NBC skewed their story about this poll based on their own bias.

    I am more inclined to believe the polls which survey only Muslims to get a more accurate reading of how Muslims feel about a subject than I am a more generalized poll, since the opinions of people of other faiths tend to skew the results of the poll.

    And, unfortunately, those surveys demonstrate that most Muslims are OK with what ISIS (and other violent Islamic jihadis) are doing, and a good percentage actually support their efforts. We must take into account the FACT that Islam has often been spread by violence, since that is one valid method of spreading Islam mentioned in their Koran.

    The Koran gives two methods of spreading Islam: 1) Through immigrating to non-Muslim countries in large numbers and increasing their numbers through birthrates to become a majority, and then take over and implement Shari’ah Law. To do this effectively, Muslims are encouraged to lie to the kafir (non-Muslims) and act friendly toward the population of the host nation until such time as their percentage of that population is high enough. It’s called ‘taqiyya,’ in Arabic.

    2) The second method of spreading Islam is by the sword, committing extreme violence and atrocities against people of other faiths–and even against “moderate” Muslims (locals who refuse to join in the violence), and forcing them to either adopt Islam, pay a high ‘tax’ to the jihadis, or flee the country. This is how Islam was spread after Muhammad immigrated to Medina from Mecca. Why? Because, when he tried to convert people peacefully in Mecca, he was only able to convince 150 people to join his religion, and he discovered the people of Medina were even less interested. So he resorted to violence. That is how Islam was “spread” into most of the Middle East and up into the southern portions of Europe–through violent conquer.

    And that is why the Pope of that time ordered up troops to fight the Muslim hordes and stop them from killing innocent people, aka, the Crusades.

    If you do a little research into the history of the time, the Crusades were nothing in comparison to the jihadi march across the once-Christian lands. Check it out here, in this short video from

    Get the picture?

    1. Ehab2 years ago

      There are lots of mistakes in this comment. I encourage readers to seek other sources of unbiased information about Islam

    2. Emily2 years ago

      Not even to get into the historical inaccuracies in this comment, I want to say something about the sampling size. Sampling sizes of 1,000 to 1,500 are very common. It is generally agreed that a poll of around 1,000 can adequately represent the entire US adult population (187 million) with a +/-3% accuracy rate, so it is entirely reasonably that this would represent the populations of significantly smaller nations. You might disagree with these results from a ideological standpoint, but that doesn’t mean you can pointlessly question their accuracy. Everything suggests that this poll was conducted in a professional and accurate manner.

      1. jb johnson2 years ago

        The problem with your analysis is that that the 1000 sample accurately reflects the composition of the group down to the finest detail. This is an impossible job so we are short of perfection. Some samples are better than others. Random samples are subject to wide variations. As applied in this case, your conclusions miss the mark by a wide margin because of the difficulty of getting, or even defining what a representative sample is, even in theory. The group “muslims” is extremely hard to pin down because among the subgroups there are those that are, literally, at each other’s throats.

  11. Andro2 years ago

    Lebanon is less than 40% Shi’i

    1. jb johnson2 years ago

      I do not see the Sunnis as 98% against ISIS because ISIS is Sunni. I also can see Shia 100% against ISIS because they hate Sunnis.

      1. Anonymous2 years ago

        ISIS isn’t sunni, they’re wahabis

        1. Viredae1 year ago

          Isis aren’t Wahabis, they’re a bastardized offshoot of Wahabis.

          It’s the same distance between Westboro and your average denominational christians, really.

  12. Andro2 years ago

    These numbers are chilling. Even if in any and every case they represent a minority, the raw numbers remain high.
    If you look at Turkey, 8% of close to 75 million is more than 1/2 a million, that is a lot.
    Now add the “don’t know” and then it is frankly scary. Not to know about ISIS is like to wonder if Nazis were O.K or not.
    That was Turkey, what about Indonesia not to mention Pakistan.

    1. Publius2 years ago

      fyi 8% of 75 million is 6 million, not 1/2 million.

    2. CaliforniaDude2 years ago

      8% of 75 million is NOT 1/2 million, it’s 6 million . Now look at Pakistan and do the math

    3. Misty Misty2 years ago

      Keep in mind that these countries have a lot of poverty and lack of access to information. It’s possible many of the Don’t Knows aren’t aware of this group or what they stand for. People aren’t going to have an opinion on something they’ve never heard of.

    4. Grilled iPhone2 years ago

      Majority of Pakistanis have no idea about ISIS because it does not exist there.I am a Pakistani and nobody talks about this group in Pakistan Even I didn’t know what this thing is until my friend send me a chilling ISIS beheading video clip on WhatsApp

  13. Dan Davis2 years ago

    This survey and the article are worthless drivel.

    Lebanon is Shiite Muslims. ISIS is Sunni Muslims. The survey that found < 1% of Lebanese Muslims support ISIS – an analogy would be doing a survey of Green Bay (Lebanon) citizens to see how much support there is for the Dallas Cowboys (ISIS), and then concluding that the people of Green Bay do not support football (terrorism).

    At best the survey and article show complete ignorance on the topic, but most likely it's a deliberately misleading and overtly politically correct survey.

    1. Somewhat.soulless2 years ago

      Actually, Dan – if you weren’t too busy worrying about PC issues and took 30 seconds to check Wikipedia, you would see that Lebanon is actually pretty evenly split between Sunni and Shia – which is likely why the authors of this “flawed” study decided to do a breakdown for this country.

      1. jb johnson2 years ago

        You miss the point Dan is making. The identical results for Sunni and Shia in Lebanon is the tipoff that something is wildly wrong with the results.

        1. Timo Wayne2 years ago

          You guys are forgetting that Libanon people knows their history about extremists groups.
          Besides it’s not like normal like Shias or Sunnis are enemies.

          1. Eric Hadley-Ives2 years ago

            I agree with you, Timo. The factional violence, the civil war, the invasion and occupation by refugees and then Israel, and work of Syria and their proxies, the horrible violence committed in Lebanon by all sides… I think the people of Lebanon are much wiser (from their sad experience) about the horrors of extremist violence and terrorism. I gather from what little news comes out of Lebanon that the younger generation is against all that violent factionalism and extremist rhetoric. It’s just not cool anymore.

  14. Clarence Mercer2 years ago

    What is there about Islam that lends it to the power of despotic leaders to use it as a tool of militarism, corruption, intimidation and reward? What about it that allows individual adhearants to toss away its dictates of peace and conscientious living in favor of murder, mayhem and self destruction? I have read a lot of Qur’anic literature and the Qur’an itself and drew no such directives. Of course, the same could be said of the Christian Institutions that supported the war makers of the last eighteen centuries (the first three centuries were strict pacifists).

    1. SomeoneHasToSayIt2 years ago

      “What is there about Islam…”

      The human beings. It does not matter what religion or ideology a group of humans profess to hold, if and when their greed or anger or fear gets the better of them and they launch on a violent course, they ALWAYS use their culture’s primary belief system as a source for cherry-picking quotes to support what they want to do.

    2. tyson clarke2 years ago

      Mohammed being a warlord is probably a big part of it.

      Jesus wasn’t much of a warlord. Not a big fan of Christianity either, but the messenger, and the message; is very different.

      If you couldn’t find anything directly prescriptive of violence in the Quran you probably need to read it again.

      1. mike2 years ago

        your fact based comment is an oasis in a desert of spin. Regardless of a persons world view, truth is key.

      2. Davon Bertoli1 year ago

        Warlord? Next time when you people have any decency left in you, when you accuse Muhammad of being a warlord, have the decency to name the battles and who he allegedly attacked, you are just spreading false accusations, some of you are ignorant others know the truth but they prefer to lie.

        For instance in the Quran God uses a term that has several meaning, but when we look closely the word means “kuffar” or Kaffir plural and singular it means in fact “those who see the truth but quickly try to cover it with lies” in other words when you tell an event you pick what suits your argument, on many occasions you tell half or even 1/4 of story the objective is not to have a healthy debate but to spread false accusations.
        Next time present your facts.
        Somehow many historians will disagree with you, Such as Montgomery Watt, Karen Armstrong and many others.
        We know and you know that you are lying some of you are ignorantly lying others purposely distorting the truth.
        very pathetic.

    3. Craig2 years ago

      Clarence, you raise a really good question. I hope people (particularly Muslims and our national leaders) will honestly pursue an answer.

      There is a huge difference between Muhammad and Jesus. The first was a tribal leader who became a national despot who then led people to conquer others via the sword. Jesus came as the “Prince of Peace”. He led a group of disciples who healed people, expressed compassion, and taught about a spiritual Kingdom of God. He never led a nation, never fought any physical battles, never led or taught his followers to kill anyone.

      It is of course historically irresponsible to say that Christian Institutions supported war makers of the last eighteen centuries. Good grief! (First of all your math is impossible. There have not yet been 21 centuries of Christianity.)

      Yes, for 300 years Christianity was pacifist. And yes, Constantine changed that by merging Christendom with the remnants of the Roman Empire. But there has never been 18 (17!) centuries of war mongering by Christians. There have been particular Popes who merged power with Emperors who led particular revolts (like the infamous Crusades to re-take former Christian lands that the Muslims had previously conquered.) That was an historical anomaly that Catholics today nuance and non-Catholics are embarrassed by – as not representing the heart of God or the New Testament’s teachings. “Our war is not with flesh and blood”. Christian mission is to save souls and spiritually introduce people to God. There is no Christian mandate to kill in the name of Christ. At all. The past 8 centuries can hardly be said to be about warfare sponsored by Christian spiritual leaders! More like missionary endeavors, hospitals, economic growth, pursuit of strong families and responsible citizenship.

      Oh, and persecution AGAINST Christians (by atheist communist leaders – WWII thru the present, and by Muslim despots – current).

      1. Anthony2 years ago

        Very well written. And He came to give life not take life.

        1. Anthony2 years ago

          That is, agree with Craigs post.

      2. Maria Navarro2 years ago

        Well written.

  15. Sagan Worshipper2 years ago

    I’m not claiming that most Muslims, or even a significant percentage of Muslims find the Islamic State secretly appealing. But, as you say, almost any percentage of 1.6 billion people represents an intolerable number of aspiring martyrs. Even one tenth of one percent is a problem. Just imagine what would happen if there were 1.6 million active jihadis worldwide—people who were willing to put their lives on the line every day to destroy our open societies. That would be intolerable. So, one can only hope that there is a huge disparity between what people profess to believe, and what they truly believe, because the poll numbers on this topic are not at all consoling. No question posed about suicide bombing, shari’ah, or martyrdom is so retrograde or morally suspect as to win only 0.1 percent approval in the Muslim community. In fact, the lowest percentage “I’ve ever seen in support of suicide bombing against civilians in defense of Islam has been 3 percent (in Pakistan). Most Muslim countries profess far greater approval than that. In fact, it would be conservative to say that 10 percent of Muslims worldwide support suicide bombing against civilians in defense of the faith—please note the terms “suicide,” “civilians,” and “faith” in that sentence. We are, by definition, talking about religiously motivated terrorism. A hundred and sixty million supporters of that worldwide is terrible to contemplate. Less polling on these questions has been done in the West, but the data from the UK is also not encouraging. In the immediate aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in the London, for instance, nearly one in four British Muslims felt that the bombings were justified. So we are essentially in the position of merely praying that our polls are wrong by several orders of magnitude. ”
    ~Sam Harris

  16. Kechat Kiratas2 years ago

    For countries with a significant Muslim population, shouldn’t there be sampling sub-sets that draws the sample proportionately from each religious group? Only then can we say the result reflects the views of the countries total population.

  17. John R2 years ago

    I find it inconsistent that so many people declare to have an unfavorable opinion of ISIS in their own or neighboring country and yet they appear to provide local support to ISIS. If they don’t favor ISIS then don’t provide support to ISIS.

  18. Easow Samuel2 years ago

    Why Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar are excluded fro the sample survey? Further what about Iran and Indonesia?

    1. David Kent2 years ago

      Thanks for your interest. This is taken from a survey of 40 countries we conduct each year on a broad array of topics. Which countries are surveyed changes from year to year, so the figures in this piece are limited to the countries included in our 2015 survey.

  19. Bismarck2 years ago

    First of all: there is no such thing as an “ISIS conflict in Syria”. The Syrian government is fighting a civil war against its own population – and hard-core jihadi groups supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and regional militant networks have partially filled the vacuum.
    Second striking feature: Why are Syria and Iraq, the countries most affected by the IS organisation, not included in the survey?
    Thirdly: Why isn’t a single Arab Gulf country, the ideological incubators and first day financial supporters of Daesh (IS) and other radical militant jihadi factions in Iraq and Syria (JAN, Ahrar ash-Sham, etc. etc.) taken into consideration?
    What are the figures for Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait – the Wahhabi-Salafi godfathers?
    Finally: according to your findings a significant part (btw 5 and 10%) of Christian populations in a Subsaharan and a Saharan African state would be positively enclined towards the IS?! As well as a sizeable chunck of Buddhists in Malaysia? Are you folks TOTALLY OUT OF YOUR MIND?
    Such findings do not, for sure, increase the credibility of the other results.

    1. Easow Samuel2 years ago

      We had similar queries? Exclusion of few involved nations?

    2. Soren Lorenson2 years ago

      Have you ever tried fielding a survey in a country actively involved in a civil war? Go ahead and give it a shot.

  20. Amateur Scholar2 years ago

    Reading the comments I notice how many people have quite rigid opinions about how Muslims in the countries polled perceive foreigners, “the Other” and other religions…and it does seem like people have made up their minds about “Muslims” and if the data doesn’t align with their opinion they resort to mental gymnastics to get the data to fit their beliefs about Muslims. I am curious how many people have Muslim friends or work colleagues and if they have traveled to some of the countries where the survey was conducted.

    I am not a Muslim (agnostic, learning towards atheism…but NOT of the Harris/Dawkins variety) and my knowledge of Islam is still fairly limited. I have had Muslim co-workers (all post-911) and their personalities ranged from extremely outgoing and cheerful to aloof and a bit standoffish…like any random group of people thrown together in the workplace.

    Since 11/13 I have read and heard so many claims about Islam and Muslims…most of them negative. Everything from Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and ISIS is not truly Islamic to ISIS’ interpretation of the Quran is correct and moderate Islam is an oxymoron to every Muslim despises infidels and apostates no matter what they say to your face; the Quran says it is every Muslim’s duty to spread Islam around the world, by force when necessary, until the entire planet recognizes Islam as the only true religion. Almost all these arguments came from non-Muslims but not all the arguments were simplistic bigotry.

    I started reading more about Islam and it became clear that many of the broad, general claims about Islam are difficult to uphold…and that there are some unsettling claims that are not easy to dismiss out of hand. But it would be foolish of me, to say the least, to assume that I know enough about Islam to make wholesale claims about what is or is not “true” Islam, the applications of the Quran, and Hadiths, whether Islam is inherently illiberal and intolerant and so forth.

    The only thing I can doing good faith is keep learning and thinking critically and, when possible, talk to Muslims about their religion. If someone says “All Muslims are____” or
    “Islam is inherently___” I have to take it with a large grain of salt and check the presented claims for accuracy.

    When I hear people make sweeping claims about Judaism and Christianity or their adherents I am skeptical…and the same goes for Islam.

    1. Sagan Worshipper2 years ago

      I’m actually an enemy of “Islamism,” not Islam per se. Islamism, as you know, is the desire on the part of a minority of Muslims to impose their religion on the rest of society (and jihadis are the minority of Islamists who attempt to do so by force). Anyone who’s not an Islamist himself must be an enemy of that project, whether he thinks about these things or not.

      Let’s talk about the Islamic State. Many people allege that it isn’t Islamic. Liberal apologists have been saying that their behavior has nothing to do with Islam. Rather, we’re told that burning people alive in cages, crucifying children, and butchering journalists and aid workers is an ordinary human response to political and economic instability. Even representatives of our own State Department assert this. I can’t imagine how comically out of touch with reality we appear from the side of the jihadis.

      It’s one thing for the president to deny the link between religious belief and jihadism in public—that’s a propaganda campaign that seems doomed to fail—but it’s another to learn that our military leaders are expressing confusion about this behind closed doors. I find that terrifying.

      I grant that there are many possible readings of the Qur’an and the hadith. There’s simply no question that many different traditions have emphasized one reading or another. All I argue is that there are more or less plausible, more or less straightforward, more or less comprehensive readings of any scripture. And the most plausible, straightforward, and comprehensive readings tend to be the more literalistic, no matter how self-contradictory the text. So, for instance, when it says in the Qur’an (8:12), “Smite the necks of the infidels,” some people may read that metaphorically, but it’s always tempting to read it literally. In fact, a line like that fairly cries out for a literal reading. Of course, some Muslims believe that such violent passages must be read in their historical context. But it seems even more natural to assume that the words of God apply for all time. So it’s no accident that the Islamic State has made a cottage industry of decapitation.

      In my view, one really can’t blame the religious dogmatist for resorting to literalism once he has accepted the claim that a given book is the perfect word of the Creator of the universe, because nowhere in these books does God counsel a metaphorical or otherwise loose interpretation of His words. In fact, many scriptures contain passages that explicitly forbid that kind of reading.

      I don’t take a position on there being one true interpretation of scripture. It’s just that there are plausible readings and less so, and to my eye the Islamic State is giving a very plausible reading of the Qur’an and the hadith. That’s a terrible problem, because one can’t stand up and say that this behavior is un-Islamic. Of course one can do this, as President Obama repeatedly has—but his denials sounded about as credible as those of one former president the moment images of a semen-stained dress appeared on the evening news. One publicly flouts the obvious at one’s peril.

      However, more important than the connection to scripture is the fact that the people who are devoting their lives to waging jihad really believe what they say they believe, however those ideas got into their heads. The psychological problem that secularists must overcome is the basic doubt that anyone believes in paradise. I’ve actually had anthropologists and other overeducated people look me in the eye and insist that no one believes in martyrdom and that even suicide bombers are merely concerned about politics, economics, and male bonding. Some experts on terrorism sincerely think that no one is ever motivated to act on the basis of religious ideas. I find this astonishing.

      I just want to point out that this effort to get at root causes only ever runs in one direction. No one doubts the political and economic justifications that people give for their behavior. When someone says, “Listen, I murdered my rich neighbor because I knew he kept a pile of money in a safe. I wanted that money, and I didn’t want to leave a witness,” nobody looks for an ulterior explanation for that behavior. But when someone says, “I think infidels and apostates deserve to burn in hell, and I know for a fact that I’ll go to paradise if I die while waging jihad against them,” many academics refuse to accept this rationale at face value and begin looking for the political or economic reasons that they imagine lie beneath it. So the game is rigged.

      There are many examples of educated, affluent young men joining organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State who lack any discernible material or political grievances. They simply feel a tribal connection to Muslims everywhere, merely because they share the same religious identity. We are seeing jihadis travel halfway around the world for the privilege of dying in battle who have nothing in common with the beleaguered people of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, or Somalia whose ranks they are joining, apart from a shared belief in the core doctrines of Islam.

      The other side of this coin, of course, is that even the most grotesque, seemingly nihilistic actions of the Islamic State become perfectly rational—which is to say, straightforwardly self-interested—given the requisite beliefs. Once you imagine what it would be like to actually believe in paradise, and in martyrdom as the surest way of getting there, it becomes obvious why someone would want to join the Islamic State. If a person truly believes that the Creator of the universe wants him to wage war against the evil of unbelief and that the Islamic State is the very tip of His spear, he has to be insane not to join the cause.

      Calling them “evil” can be as misleading as calling them “crazy.” I’m sure jihadism is selecting for thrill seekers and psychopaths to some degree. But I doubt that it’s a large variable. If 1% of the general population is suffering from psychopathy, let’s nudge that up to 10% for the Islamic State—an increase that would still do nothing to explain the larger phenomenon.

      I see no reason to think that most jihadis are psychologically abnormal. The truth is far more depressing: These are mostly normal people—fully capable of love, empathy, altruism, and so forth—who simply believe what they say they believe.

      Of course. We can call them “evil,” too—for they are guilty of immense evil. I just don’t want people to be confused about what’s really going on here. Normal people, under the sway of bad ideas, are capable of anything.

      An eccentric German former magistrate named Jürgen Todenhöfer went to the Islamic State and returned with extraordinary footage. He came back agreeing that its members are serious about religion. They acted like true believers, and they didn’t break character during his trip.Todenhöfer also made it very clear that the foreign recruits who are coming to join the Islamic State are not beleaguered, hopeless dropouts, but bright-eyed “winners,” as he put it, who are absolutely convinced of the truth of their religious beliefs.

      I now have a rogues’ gallery in my mind of pseudo-liberals, both Muslim and not, who are reflexive apologists for theocracy. These people will deny, at every turn, the link between deeply held religious convictions and bad behavior. According to them, all the mayhem we see in the Middle East is “blowback.” Everything is a product of our callous meddling in the affairs of other countries. We have no enemies in the world but the ones we’ve made for ourselves by being bad actors and rapacious guzzlers of oil. Many of these people appear to have been bewitched by Noam Chomsky.
      ~Sam Harris

      1. SomeoneHasToSayIt2 years ago

        An interpretation of Islam as you speak of determinedly ignores very clear statements of the Quran. A quote from another article:…

        “And the Quran is clear: there is no compulsion in matters of religion (Al-Baqara: 256). … According to the Quran, war is only for self-defense (Al-Baqarah: 190) and Muslims are instructed not to incite war (Al-Hajj: 39). Abu-Bakr, the first Caliph following Prophet Muhammad’s death, gave these instructions for (defensive) war: “Do not betray or be treacherous or vindictive. Do not mutilate. Do not kill the children, the aged or the women. Do not cut or burn palm trees or fruitful trees. Don’t slay a sheep, a cow or camel except for your food. And you will come across people who confined themselves to worship in hermitages, leave them alone to what they devoted themselves for.”

        No doubt many members of ISIS are quite sincere, and no doubt many of the Crusaders were very sincere about the necessity to rape and plunder every city they came across on the way to the Holy Land. But in both cases, sincerity or not, they were violating fundamental tenets of their religion. This isn’t special to Islam. This is unfortunately among the things that human beings do. When they want to do something, they support it by cherry-picking from their society’s belief system.

        Muslims existed for centuries without widespread terrorism. When did that change? Colonization, followed by a “decolonization” that involved installing ruthless dictators. To not acknowledge there is predictable blowback from such events is to be willfully ignorant. And it should be equally obvious that whenever violence is embarked on by any culture, the local belief system is always invoked to support it, correctly or not.

        1. zookeeper2 years ago

          Colonization , followed by a “decolonization” was a worldwide affair that involved the American continent (Native Americans),Hindus in India, Buddhists in Asia. Also, don’t forget the Moslem Mogul empire that colonized several parts of Asia . So then why would then one religion then behave differently than the rest if predictable blowback is a human trait?

  21. Amateur Scholar2 years ago

    Thank you for making the results available to all via the internet. I have no dog in this race, so to speak, and am hearing so many claims from…well, pretty much everyone with an opinion about this issue and I am doing my own little research project to put the stuff I’ve been told and read about in the news media into perspective.

    ISIS is a Sunni Muslim group that follows an interpretation of Islam that corresponds closely to what the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia teaches. In light of that it would be interesting to see how Saudis (and citizens of the Sunni Gulf kingdoms) answer the survey question. It would also be interesting to see how Shia Muslims in Iran (who ISIS considers apostates) answer the question.

  22. Deb2 years ago

    Wouldn’t it be more accurate to display the population sizes in addition to the percentage favorable / unfavorable?

    1. David2 years ago

      Population size would not matter if the sample size of the survey is the same in each country surely.

    2. tyson clarke2 years ago

      Here are the populations and numbers of supporters of Isis from a basic google search :
      Pakistan, 182 Million @ 9% = 16.8 Million
      Senegal, 14 Million @ 11% = 1.5 Million
      Malaysia, 29 million @ 11% = 3.1 Million
      Burkina Faso, 17 million @ 8% = 1.3 million
      Nigeria, 173 million @ 14% = 24 million
      Turkey, 75 million @ 8% = 6 million
      Indonesia, 250 million @ 4% = 10 million
      Palest Ter, 4 million @ 6% = 240,000
      Jordan, 6 million @ 3% = 180.000
      Israel, 8 million @ 1% = 80,000
      If indeed the study is a true reflection of the numbers, there are
      63.2 Million people look upon Isis favorably. NOT just Islamists; these are people who think Isis is RIGHT.

      1. math2 years ago

        you’re math isn’t considering the religion demographics in the countries listed, muslims do not make up 100% of all the countries

        1. Jesse Finnerty1 year ago

          No, the math is correct… Yes, Muslims don’t make up 100% of the countries listed, but the poll was not just given to Muslims in those countries… Those numbers are percentages of the *entire population* of the countries polled… There are breakdowns by religious demographics further down in this article… For example, in the first chart, 14% of Nigerians are stated to support ISIS… The religious breakdown for Nigeria in the second chart shows that the ISIS-supporting 14% consists of 6% of Nigerian Christians and 20% of Nigerian Muslims…

  23. Mark Smith2 years ago

    Yet in Nations with significant Muslim populations, much disdain Other as your social hostility index research clearly shows. So really as the law-abiding ‘many’ who ‘much disdain ISIS are the very families, communities and institutions supplying the managers and perpetrators of ISIS such findings are really of no comfort to those who understand some cultures systemically inform terror-genocide against Other despite any number of the so called ‘good’ and must be removed from the Public Square to at least stop one ideology informing terror-genocide systematically against Other.

    “Communities (cultures) tend to be guided less than individuals by conscience and a sense of responsibility. How much misery does this fact cause mankind! It is the source of wars and every kind of oppression, which fill the earth with pain, sighs and bitterness.” (Albert Einstein, 1934)

    “Against Soviets as Soviets one has nothing to say. Against the result of their rule in Russia and interference elsewhere one cannot protest to strongly. They are the world’s terror to-day.” Mrs. Alec-Tweedie, An Adventurous Journey. Russia-Siberia-China.1926

  24. peace4all2 years ago

    These supposed results lead to only one final conclusion that pew research is just publishing funny statistics with funny articles , only to save islam from the blood it has on its hands, Pew research has leftist leanings, so it is understandable.

    Keep going. But once a while do publish some articles with some truth in it, otherwise this site will become onion

  25. Patrick Vaughan2 years ago

    Why wasn’t Saudi Arabia one of the countries you polled? If we are ever going to begin to understand ISIS we need to know how thing work.

  26. Al2 years ago

    I’m not concerned about the 95% opposed to ISIS, but the 5% who are. “Much disdain for ISIS” is not enough. In America, we do suffer violent attacks from individuals on both the left and right. However, we do not familiar with such widespread acceptance of violence as a means to an end. Assuming everyone thinks like we do may be our grave mistake.

    1. Jesse Finnerty1 year ago

      How about the 10-20% (and rather more than that in several countries) worldwide who believe that carrying out suicide bombing attacks against civilians ‘in defense of the faith’ is sometimes or always justified? Oh no, wait… let’s talk about how progressive the ‘vast majority’ is and pretend that’s not a problem… At least 80% of the 1.6 billion Muslims DON’T think mass murder in the name of religion is okay… Doesn’t that make you feel better?

  27. Sebastian Brüning2 years ago

    I have to admit, that some of these results leave me baffled. How is it possible for a significant number of christians to be in favor of ISIS? Is there any Explanation for these numbers?

    1. MuTru2 years ago

      Two things. First, the highest level support among people who identify as Christian is in the single digits. When you account for the margin of error, I think you’d be hard-pressed to call that “significant.”

      Second, and more importantly, not everyone views every issue through a religious lens. Someone can support IS because they imagine they are fighting the after-effects of western colonialism, and if that matters to a few people in Nigeria and Burkina Faso, the fact the supporter also happens to be a Christian is irrelevant.

  28. PADRAEG Sullivan2 years ago

    Most Germans had a negative view of Hitler, but they stood and watched. That was all he needed for his horrors. This is the problem now with Islam, either because of fear, or because they are not opposed to the extremists.

    It must be noted that Lebanon’s bigger opposition to ISIS is from the background of a big Christian societal influence, similarly in Israel.

    1. Jacob B2 years ago

      That’s probably one influence. Probably more important is that It happens to be that 40%+ of their population is Christian, 27%+ Shia Moslem and 6% Druze, which means that you start off with 73% of the population that is in danger of excruciating torture and death if ISIS takes over. That leaves the 27% Sunni Moslem population who are more (at least as of now) less radical than ISIS, and would not welcome the type of unbelievably extreme Sharia Sunni Moslem law that they would have to live under.
      BTW- I’m also in a bit skeptical (as is Sebastian above) about the poll results that show that 7% of Nigerian Christians are in favor. This sound absolutely absurd, inasmuch as it would mean incredible persecution of these very people.

      1. MuTru2 years ago

        It’s not hard to believe; not every person views every issue through a religious filter. It’s not absurd to imagine a few people who have anti-colonial feelings, for instance, to have a favorable view of an organization they feel are trying to overthrow regimes that harken back to western colonialism in the mideast. Or they may support IS for ethnic reasons. Regardless, religion doesn’t factor into their opinion in a significant way for those people, who may not be overly religious to begin with.

  29. Sugar Free2 years ago

    How many people from each country took this poll so we can get an accurate number?

    1. PADRAEG Sullivan2 years ago

      It is important to identify where the violence of Islam is tolerated. This article noted Iranians (Shia) are generally less extreme than Sunni, who are predominantly Sunni. Shia have a fatwa against targeting innocents by suicide. But the Sunni of Central Asia are more tolerant than all the nations noted in article.

      I feel intolerance rises in Moslem populations that speak Arabic, as that binds a closer fit with Kuran, which some claim s/n/b translated to any other language. Well, that would tend to create a closing of the mind.

  30. Anonymous2 years ago

    As a malaysian, im not surprised with the numbers.. the muslims is just the same.. when they commit any crimes or start any riot especially the racist riot towards other races.. they shout allahhuakbar.. its like a drug that pumps ecstasy into their veins.. they are now thinking out separating the trolleys in markets into halal use and non halal use.. how retard.. but i guess money is so pure and powerful they dont separate the halal or non halal use for money.. or maybe its already too dirty to be stained with pork or alcohol 😀

  31. Tauno2 years ago

    Would be nice if same poll had asked opinions about salafists and wahabi-style islamism. These would be the numbers that people should pay attention to. We have had islamic terror long before ISIS and probably have long after. In this context the support for some particular terror organisation is somewhat irrelevant. Support for the ideology is what matters.

    1. Maria Navarro2 years ago


  32. Yoppy Soleman2 years ago

    In some ways I doubted the absolute validity of the survey. Some things are contradictory and irrational appear in the results of this survey: the data for Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Malaysia. Is something that is very unlikely that the Christians in Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Malaysia supports ISIS. It was highly unlikely or identity fraud has occurred.

    1. Yc2 years ago

      It is impossible Buddhist will be supporting ISIS. This poll doesn’t seem to be valid.

      1. Marcus Hunke2 years ago

        Self-response bias is always inherent in surveys.

      2. Kel2 years ago

        I thought the same thing.

  33. Jim Hendrix2 years ago

    Yes. However your organization also indicates roughly 57% of those same respondents support Sharia Law as the legal authority for their country. So although we may celebrate the loss of support for ISIS now, I believe that is only a temporary shift in polls. When ISIS returns to their original mission of murdering Jews and Americans – their popularity will rise.…

  34. Mazen2 years ago

    Most muslims against ISIS ,, THATS TRUE ,,do not blame us ,, blame who disband the armies and ouster presidents to help them come out ,, if they know or unrealized

  35. Stephen2 years ago

    This is not a good representation of Muslism Nation or the core Muslism nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Afganistan UAE. Because you said nations with significant Muslim population. Nigeria will not come into this picture.

    1. Ali Al-Shaikh (Viredae)2 years ago

      I’m from Saudi Arabia, and while I will not pretend to represent my entire country’s population, I certainly hold plenty of disdain for ISIS, I can also guess many people feel the same since their atrocities ARE televised here on the biggest middle Eastern news Channels (Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera, for the most part).

      I’m also sure that there is probably a percentage of people who DO favor ISIS simply out of ideological support and maybe ignorance of the situation, I dunno, I don’t claim to know that demographic’s mindset.

    2. Gregory2 years ago

      Did you even bother to check your assumptions Stephen? You seem to this the only the Middle East is significantly Muslim. Nigeria is more that 70% muslim and the most populated country in Africa! India & Indonesia actually have significantly more muslims than anywhere in the ME.

  36. lilu2 years ago

    you also need to take into account how they’re polling and how suspicious people in the country are. if they don’t know what the poll is for and don’t want to get in trouble it could change their answer depending on the reason. “i don’t know” might be considered a good neutral answer, and if ISIS is more of an immediate or looming threat “favorable” could be considered the safest answer. (likewise if they think western powers or military are trying to come after them because they think they’re affiliate “unfavorable” could be considered the safest answer.)

    1. Ali Al-Shaikh (Viredae)2 years ago

      When you put it that way, I kinda feel a bit conflicted when looking at the poll in Lebanon, considering it’s a neighboring country to Syria and that they’re probably the most likely to be affected by them the most, I don’t know how to take them fully hating on ISIS, whether as a good sign or a bad sign (that they don’t care anymore).

  37. stephen2 years ago

    These survey scores indicate a majority in the surveyed countries are against ISIS, but I disagree with the author’s point-of-view that these figures represent “overwhelming” disdain for ISIS.
    1) If you take then numbers at face value, 41MM people across all countries are favorable toward ISIS. If you remove the ‘don’t know’ group and reset the proportions, 66MM people are favorable.
    2) We’re missing some important countries: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria. If anything like the surrounding countries, at least 6% would be favorable to ISIS
    3) What is a good number when it comes to being favorable toward terrorism? If we asked all Americans, or all high-school aged Americans how many are favorable to mass school shootings, how many of us would be relieved if only 3 to 14% were in favor? Wouldn’t we be alarmed?

    1. Mazen2 years ago

      Everywhere ,, most of the Muslims think ISIS supported by western goverments ,, the majority think that ,, but ISIS ,,use a brutal ways to scare people ,, most of people in iraq either got killed or raped or who were luckier beded down streets because ISIS ,,

    2. Jonathan2 years ago

      Confused as to why you would call those “important countries”. Iran is a Shi’i country, as anti-ISIS as you can get. In Syria and Iraq, anyone who matters is either already fighting against ISIS or getting killed by them. And Afghanistan has their own issues – they’re going to be pretty irrelevant in this one.

      And you can’t take tiny numbers like that at face value. The poll says that 6% of Malaysian Buddhists and 4-5% of African Christians support ISIS. Do you really believe that? Of course not. In far-flung countries where a lot of people know nothing about ISIS, obviously the small support numbers are mostly just people who answered the question wrong.

    3. amusedspectator2 years ago

      It’s amusing that we take these numbers at face value. The Pakistan numbers show that people will hide their support for ISIS. While many of them could only bring themselves to pretend to have no opinion, many of them likely pretended to be unfavorable.

  38. a2 years ago

    The number in favor comes out to 66,940,982 people.

    1. Duck Manson2 years ago

      I was going to do the math on this. Thanks for saving me the work.

      That means there are 15 million more people supporting ISIS, from these 11 countries alone, than the entire population of England.

      1. Jonathan2 years ago

        That’s if you take tiny support numbers in polls seriously. You really believe the poll, when 6% of Malaysian Buddhists and 4-5% of African Christians supposedly support ISIS according to it?

        Tiny polling numbers from that are at the level of polling error, not actual support levels.

  39. repp2 years ago

    It may make a difference as to who is doing the polling. i.e. if a westrner askes its “we don’t support ISIS”. However, according to an Al Jeezera poll over 70% supported ISIS.

    1. craigk2172 years ago

      Would you happen to have a link so that I can see that survey from Al Jezeera?

    2. Ali Al-Shaikh (Viredae)2 years ago

      Bear in mind that that was an online poll, so take those results with a grain of salt, maybe there was some selectiveness, maybe it was hacked, etc., etc.

      There are a million ways for the poll to be completely the polar opposite of reality, and honestly, it’s extremely disheartening to see every single website that published it take the information and swallow it hook line and sinker without even thinking for a second.

  40. Sarmad Tanwir2 years ago

    The data about Pakistan is totally incorrect and possibly malafide.

    1. Naoman2 years ago

      “The sample is disproportionately urban, but the data are weighted to reflect the actual urban/rural distribution in Pakistan.”
      What does that tell you?

      1. SomeoneHasToSayIt2 years ago

        That Pew is on top of the sampling problem and even making sure to explain how they handle it?

  41. HA2 years ago

    I’m amazed at some of the comments here. Many seem to be disappointed that the notion that Muslims favor ISIS is NOT confirmed in this poll. In my opinion, the criticism that some major Middle Eastern countries have not been surveyed in this poll is a valid one. However, I would argue that the poll includes countries representative of different contents and regions, contexts to which Muslims belong.
    At any rate, polls cannot be taken as news headlines. Academics can look into what the results mean and how they are shaped by what factors. Your prejudices, biases as non-experts do not count.
    I’m skeptical of the people who ignore the majority results and fixate on the minority results, despite being absolutely worth investigating. Anti-Muslim bias maybe. Does it not also horrify you that some Christians Buddhists and jews favor, or have no opinion on ISIS?? This is not how you read stats.
    I would safely assume, the generality of Muslims hate ISIS. Perhaps, a follow up poll, should as Muslims why they hate ISIS.

    1. km2 years ago

      You’re right that it’s equally as disturbing that 7% of Christians in Nigeria support the Islamic State, but that’s not as scary as 20% of Muslims.

      I think this pole shows that support for Radical Islam is a minority position, but it’s undeniably a large minority.

      I’m curious if the results would be different if they asked whether they support ISIS, Al Qaeda, or Boko Haram. In others, ISIS is only one radical group. How many of those opposed to the Islamic State would support a different Radical Islamist group?

    2. km2 years ago

      I’m curious if the results would be different if they asked whether they support ISIS, Al Qaeda, or Boko Haram. In others, ISIS is only one radical group. How many of those opposed to the Islamic State would support a different Radical Islamist group?

    3. Anthony2 years ago

      ~10% of people will agree to just about anything, much of it due to poll noise or making a mistake. Having 5% support in a poll is roughly equivalent to have 0% support.

  42. Jaylani Adam2 years ago

    Huh…..I am surprised that Christians in Burkina Faso and Nigeria and Buddhists in Malaysia have favourable views towards ISIS.

    1. Jonathan2 years ago

      That’s obviously just polling error. Any responses under 10% can be taken to be as likely as not people just answering the question wrong, not actual support. Malaysian Buddhists and Nigerian Christians obviously don’t support ISIS, nor do even 5% of the Muslims in most of the countries, whether or not they’re “polled” to.

      1. Jesse Finnerty1 year ago

        Funny how you think people can only answer the question wrong one way and not the other… You do realize that positive and negative outliers cancel each other out right? You know how statistics work? Ever heard of normal distribution?

  43. mehran2 years ago

    The barbarity of isis is crystal clear. It would be interesting to do a survey about its creation and role of western politicians in Europe and America.

    1. Luigi Boschin2 years ago

      Ask Condoleezza Rice: History will judge, and it is judging now!

  44. Cody2 years ago

    Wow, so literally tens of millions of ISIS supporters across many Muslim nations. And this doesn’t even include the core of the Middle-East (Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan, etc, etc.)

    So many misguided people.

  45. Basha2 years ago

    As someone who studies Islam and the Middle East, I find this poll to be questionable for a number of reasons. The wording “favourable opinion to ISIS” is ambiguous, leaving us to wonder as to what exactly did the people who were polled here find “favourable” in ISIS: is it the movement’s “stated” goals, or the implementation of said goals? Or both? And if it is the goals that they find appealing, are we talking about the goal of achieving Muslim unity? Or the idea of implementing Shari’a in Muslim lands? Perhaps it’s the group’s opposition to Western invaders that people find “favourable”? or its vocal opposition to Iran? Or all of the above? You can see how such loose wording raises all sorts of doubts regarding this poll.

    The other key issue here, is whether those in favour of ISIS actually do believe that the movement is being portrayed accurately by the global media. In other words, whether “their ISIS” is in fact the ISIS that we all came to know. The reason for this is simple: people who are supportive of such militant groups tend to believe in conspiracy theories with regard to the portrayal of these groups. I would not be surprised if many of those who polled in favour actually dispute the accounts carried out in the media, claiming that ISIS is being defamed, for “being on truth”. Such poll has clearly not taken this into consideration.

    Unfortunately, we know nothing about that, thanks to an inadequate poll prepared by lazy researchers.

    1. Jim Butler2 years ago

      Excellent response, thanks for this. There are many reasons why someone in those countries might tick the ‘favourable’ box, without implying in any way that they support the violent actions of Is.

    2. amusedspectator2 years ago

      I don’t really think it matters what they mean by ‘favorable’. It sounds like you’re one of those non-moderate Muslims.

      1. Jon2 years ago

        My thoughts exactly. We don’t need to over-evaluatw what someone means when they say they have a “favourable” view of the Hitler now do we?

  46. Donald Price2 years ago

    I was particularly struck by the low opinion of ISIS in predominately Muslim countries. The results give me a bit of hope ISIS can be defeated or eradicated.

  47. JMJsquared2 years ago

    Very disturbing findings, which “mirror” my own observations as a New Yorker who, though neither Muslim or Middle-Eastern, has constant interactions with Muslims and Middle-Easterners who treat me, more-than-less, as a trusted person around whom they can relax and talk freely.

    In that regard, I have heard fathers, sons, brothers, businessmen, shopkeepers… talk causally about “doing something”, if the opportunity presented itself.

    Once, sharing coffee with four or five Muslim, Middle-Eastern men, while waiting for my car’s repair to be completed, I was stunned when the shop’s owner, a Palestinian married to an Irish NYPD captain’s sister, said that, like the Lockerbie bombers, he, too, would blow up a plane in retaliation for the [truly near-ethnic-cleansing] treatment of his people. My pointing out that such a plane would almost certainly have aboard a girl or a boy his own two children’s ages made absolutely no impact on his protestations.

    Another time, as I chatted with the Yemini clerk in the convenience store owned by his father, he picked up that day’s copy of The New York Post and kissed the front page which was covered by the image of the purportedly first, Muslim-female suicide bomber.

    Even allowing that some of that talk was the blustery, chest thumping nonsense that we men are wont to do, it causes me alarm. Never have any other of my male friends or associates ever blithely chatted about blowing up babies.

    My point is that there are many, many seemingly normal, law-abiding, sane Muslims among us, who, if the opportunity presented itself, I strongly believe would become violent or, at the very least, would not actively try to prevent violence. To think that the number of Muslims who openly admit that they support violence of the ISIL/ISIS variety approaches 14% is horrifying. If my arithematic is correct, that translates to some 400,000 terror-supporting Muslims in America today.

    Unless and until the majority of Muslims take the active, aggressive lead to ferret out the violent among them, regretably, I suggest they all be subjected to heightened scrutiny, suspicion and surveillance.

    1. Greg2 years ago

      Wow! That’s terrible!

  48. PE2 years ago

    It’s “overwhelmingly negative” in a statistically simplistic sense. Anyone capable of simple addition will look at the millions of people that view ISIS as “favorable” or “don’t know” and conclude that the results of this poll is absolutely horrifying.

  49. Dag Johansen2 years ago

    This poll would have been FAR more useful if they had polled in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, etc.

    1. Jonathan2 years ago

      Egypt is massively anti-ISIS. All the major religious figures have condemend ISIS, even the major extremist group (Muslim Brotherhood) is anti-ISIS, and I think support is suspected to be at something like 3%.

      1. Ali Al-Shaikh (Viredae)2 years ago

        You can take Egypt as a barometer of the Islamic world outside of Saudi Arabia, not because Saudi Arabia is at odds with Egypt or anything, but because they operate on a different school of Islamic law than most of the world.

        However, I CAN tell you that the religious figures in Saudi Arabia even have a distaste of CALLING ISIS with that name, since they feel that they deviate from Islam so much that they should not even be considered as such, from the level of atrocities they perform.

        So at least that much, I can tell you.

    2. Jesse Finnerty1 year ago

      It also would have been far more useful if they did not ask people about ISIS specifically, as there are a lot more reasons people might not show support for them other than they disapprove of their kind of actions… They may hate ISIS just for being Sunni, for example, but still support jihadist groups who carry out the same exact kinds of atrocities and have much the same ideology.

  50. Jim2 years ago

    This is another misleading poll whose purpose is to push the politically correct narrative that all Muslims aren’t extremists. No kidding! No thinking person frustrated with the strict constructionist adherence to an archaic value system chock full of morally bankrupt demands thinks that all 1.5 billion Muslims are evil. These articles marginalize the problem pretending like global jihad is some small, isolated group of delusional ideologues. Using only one example from the poll, the population of Pakistan is 182 million people, so while only 9% favor the murderous actions of ISIS, that equates to 16+ million people. Sixteen million people in only ONE of the countries listed endorse a theocratic militant organization willing to [insert the latest barbaric 7th century bloodletting atrocity here]. This is very plainly a problem that is rooted in the religious doctrines of Islam. Not all Muslims, but Islam.

    1. Greg2 years ago

      Change the headline to the
      number of people that support ISIS and the poll takes on a completely different meaning! Great point Jim!

    2. Anthony2 years ago

      You are desperate. There are 85 million Christians in Nigeria, so with 7% “support” among Christians in Nigeria, that would give you about 6 million Christian Jihadists willing to wage war in the name of Islam, according to your logic. There would also be 6% of the Buddhists in Malaysia, or half a million Jihadist Buddhists. Clearly there is a problem with this deranged Christian and Buddhist religion, that can support such numbers.

      In reality virtually any position will get ~10% support in a poll, either due to poll noise or them making a mistake. ~5-10% support is essentially equivalent to 0% support.

  51. Patrick Anekwe2 years ago

    The Nigerian Department of State Security better start paying attention to the 14% than continuous harassing of the ex National Security Adviser and Biafran Agitator.

  52. el cid2 years ago

    Observation on this study:

    The closer to the actual experience of ISIS/ISIL and their tyranny, the more negative the opinion.

    This might explain some of the variation in the Pakistan data. They are not in danger yet. They do not share a common language. More may view ISIS/ISIL through some kind of magical, romantic revolutionary lens.

  53. Drew F.2 years ago

    A very loud 8% booing the “moment of silence” at soccer match in Turkey.

  54. A B2 years ago

    It’s very difficult to conduct public polling in Saudi Arabia (which should surprise no one). That’s why there is very little, if any, polling data available from Pew.

  55. Jenny2 years ago

    Uh. Great job surveying secular countries, and countries that favor a different Islamic extremist group. What a wonderful job you’ve just done obscuring and confusing the issue.

    1. Haveagoodday Jones2 years ago

      Although I respect your opinion I believe your comment could not be more uneducated. Do your homework before you dispute a claim. Support your argument also. Here’s my support Ma’am. I have served in the armed forces for 17 years and deployed 7 times in seven different Middle Eastern countries. The vast majority of Middle Eastern countries “hate” ISIS or any Muslim extremists. U.A.E , Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, heck darn near the entire middle east hates Muslim extremists because it erodes the image of their Islamic beliefs. I have worked with many of these countries military members and they want this crap to end also. You are a victim of a little thing called “Confirmation Bias”. No matter what information is presented to you it won’t change your mind which is already made up. Get out of that little box that lets the media drive opinion and travel the world meet new cultures and then form an opinion.

      Haveagoodday Jones

      1. Greg2 years ago

        What percentage of the Muslims are willing to fight against ISIS? The majority of Germans in WWII were good humans but it was the evil minority that had the power and control that almost changed the face of the world.

    2. Pana Wavee2 years ago

      The headline is not going to be as snappy though. “According to surveys most Shia Islamists disagree with a particular group of Sunni Islamists about certain things, to some degree, that will not be named or addressed”

  56. Ron Murphy2 years ago

    The opposition to ISIS grew when it became clear that they were killing fellow Muslims. It would have been interesting to see what opinions were when the idea of an anti-infidel caliphate was first taking shape.

  57. Bubbe2 years ago

    With all due respect, the combination of Muslim hypersensitivity to criticism and Western political correctness do far more damage than any dislike of ISIS can possibly ameliorate.

    1. SomeoneHasToSayIt2 years ago

      Nonsense. It is not “political correctness” to point out that the Christian vs. Muslim World War narrative pushed by ISIS and the Republicans is BS. We need to deal with terrorists, not get involved in the theological contortions they use to justify what they want to do. it would be like opposing the IRA by calling for a war against Christianity – mindlessly stupid and destructive. As a matter of simple strategy, we should separate our dedicated enemies from our potential friends – not lump them together and attack them all.

  58. JC2 years ago

    Next article: Most republicans dislike Donald Trump

  59. Intesar2 years ago

    If you want to know what Pakistanis really think, ask about the Taliban as that is what Pakistanis associate with ISIS. The ISIS name is not mentioned in Pakistan as they have no presence there. The Taliban act as their proxies. With just a 30% literacy rate, you don’t expect the majority to know world affairs.
    Rephrase the question with Taliban instead of ISIS and you will get the same result as the other countries

    1. Anthony2 years ago

      The Taliban and ISIS are at war in Afghanistan, so not really.

  60. Pana Wavee2 years ago

    Why only the breakdown between Sunni and Shia in Lebanon? Lumping all “Muslims” or “Arabs” together simplifies this situation to the point that this data is useless. ISIS is a movement of Sunnis and that is where the majority of it’s support will lie. Futher every “Muslim” country listed is a Shia majority who will be opposed to ISIS based on the fact that they are Sunni alone. Using this data to make the claim that an overwhelming majority of Muslims denounce ISIS is at best naive and at worst completely dishonest propaganda.

    1. Julie2 years ago

      Wow thank you for pointing that out. I didn’t realize that these were all Shia countries. Maybe Pew Research is not the non-partisan research group people take them to be.

    2. fuffapster2 years ago

      *None* of the countries listed has a Shia majority. Not least Israel! Please pay attention to facts before you form an opinion.

  61. naarad2 years ago

    Dear Jacob,
    Why did you ignore Indian Muslims, the second largest community in the world?
    I won’t be surprised to see them toeing with their blood brothers in Pakistan.

    1. Salman2 years ago

      Naarad: Why this oblique dig at the patriotism of the Indian Muslims, falsely implying that they are more loyal to Pakistan than to India, the country of their birth? It might be more beneficial to keep ourselves to the matter in hand, which is a survey of the attitudes of the peoples of some of the countries with large Muslim populations towards the self-styled ISIS. By lumping Pakistan and Indian Muslims together, the very bases of the survey are eroded away.
      Secondly, as another reader has pointed out, most Pakistanis may even not have heard of the term ISIS. The same could also be true of a large number of Indians, and a don’t-know response may really mean just that, rather than something sinister.

      1. punit2 years ago

        many indian muslims are now joining isis,comparatively low than other muslims but still the concept of ummah is very prevalent among muslims. a research is needed to find it out. and it wont surprise many ppl of the result shows big support of isis from indian muslims. is it not a fact that thousands of indian muslims supported terrorists like yaqub menon by going to his funeral? and this is not a random case.

  62. Julie2 years ago

    Dear Pew Research,
    I echo the requests of others to include Saudi Arabia and other extremist Muslim nations in your future surveys. I am also very curious about the level of support they enjoy among European Muslims. One study showed that 16% of the French population approves of them. That’s more than the number of all the Muslims in the country. Sounds pretty suspicious, but hard to dismiss without reputable company running their own studies to confirm or dismiss it. Considering the security threat that European Muslims potentially pose for Europe, I can’t imagine a more important line of research.

    1. Jonathan2 years ago

      These are the numbers for some of those supposedly “extremist” Muslim nations, from another poll –

      Iraq: 2%
      Egypt: 4%
      Syria: 4%
      Tunisia: 7%
      Saudi Arabia: 5%

      In each of those countries, you had a slightly larger number who had “mixed” feelings, but in every case over 80% who were against ISIS.

  63. Earl Shelton2 years ago

    Do they “dislike” ISIS as much as they do a barking dog — or do they dislike ISIS enough to go to war against them — which is what is needed, not just an unfavorable opinion?

    It will take a ground force considerably larger than ISIS itself is to root them out — and even then, I think ISIS will fade into the population, emerging just to toss IEDs at the allies.

    (And by the way: Am I the only one who thinks that Russia (whose airliner the militants bombed) — and France (enraged by the Paris attacks) — might make good allies for the limited purpose of wiping out ISIS? Events have converged to make that an intriguing option, it seems to me. Having powerful and willing allies — this time — might make Americans overcome their reluctance to send troops. And some Arabs too would be nice.)

  64. Rizwan2 years ago

    What about views from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran? Big Muslim nations. Serious backers and opposes of IS apparently.

    1. Jacob Poushter2 years ago

      Hi Rizwan,

      This survey was conducted as part of a global poll of 40 nations on topics as diverse as opinion of the U.S., the country’s economic situation, views on climate change, as well as looking at views towards extremist groups in nations with significant Muslim populations.

      Each year, we select a group of countries that cover differing geographic areas around the globe so as to get as diverse a picture of world opinion as possible. Therefore, we are not able to survey in all of the countries that we would like. Additionally, some countries are off limits due to security concerns and other issues that make conducting public opinion surveys difficult.

      Hope this helps!


      1. Karl2 years ago

        Why off limits to security concerns in the Arab Gulf States? Perhaps their acceptance of ZERO refugees begins to provide a telling outcome of polls. I’d love to see how many MILLIONS of Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Yemen support ISIS… perhaps the conclusions of the article should focus on how much 10%-20% in any nation ACTUALLY represents in terms of support. What is a Moderate Muslim then! If 300 Million people indicate “favorable” or “Dont know” i think we have a serious global issue on our hands with Islamic ideology and the world needs to call it out instead of sugar coating it.

      2. Yoppy Soleman2 years ago

        The survey results above are probably not valid or false identity for the data that represents these three countries: Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Malaysia.

    2. Zo2 years ago

      Are you on drugs? Why would Iran support ISIS? They have forces fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria and they lost some of their military commanders in the fight. Also they are a Shia Muslim country, ISIS means wipe Shia off the face of the Earth! Why on earth would they support ISIS? Also Iranian people are not even that religious. They couldn’t care less about an Islamic Caliphate.

      1. Naoman2 years ago

        He said “Serious Backers AND opposers”
        the ‘opposer’ thing was about Iran.

  65. Catherine2 years ago

    What was the sample size? How was the sampling done? What is considered a fair representative sample of the various countries? Were the respondents screened? Anyone can create a chart. 4-16% favourable is extremely high.

    1. David Kent2 years ago

      Thanks for your interest. A link to the full methodology and topline is at the bottom of the post.

    2. My Anon2 years ago

      The sample is 1,000-1,300 for each country.…

  66. Bernie2 years ago

    The survey implies that these results are good. The reality is in these countries well over 60 Million people have a favorable view – thats very bad.

  67. Pradeep2 years ago

    And FYI India has more muslims than Pakistan and they are a significant population..any research conducted here.

    1. H-H2 years ago

      Actually, according to some other sources, like CIA, Gallup, etc., Pakistan now has more Muslims than India. Last time I checked, Pakistan had 180 million Muslims and India had 178 million.

      1. Garibaldi Khan2 years ago

        Yes, you are right, but still Indonesia is the country with the biggest Muslim population. Out of 256 million people, 87,7% or approximately 224 millions are Muslims. In Indonesia, we completely are unfavorable with ISIS as we believe this organization is NOT in line with Islamic teachings. Islam is the faith of peace. Only the uneducated do NOT know the real face of ISIS. I got the feeling that ISIS might be the one set up by western countries to create bad image of Islam. So, to all my Muslim brothers and sisters worldwide, let’s be aware of this and do NOT get easily trapped. Let’s show the world the beauty of Islam.

    2. Osman2 years ago

      1000 Indian Muslim scholars issued fatwa against isis. Recently jamiat ulema hind staged protests in huge numbers in different cities against the Paris attack. Unfortunately no one protested against France for arming isis in 2012 even protests by Muslims is not enough for some people they want all common Muslims to take up arms and fight isis as if they fight against crime happening around them

  68. JC2 years ago

    These are not low support numbers. They are unbelievably high. We are talking millions of Muslims who have a favorable view of ISIS. It is incredible.

  69. Sheriff Lawanson2 years ago

    Given that Nigeria is at the receiving end of all things negative in the world and Nigerians are also at the receiving end of Boko Haram insurgency, sincerely I doubt if truly 20% of Nigerian Muslims had a favorable view of ISIS.

    Northern Nigeria (predominantly North East), where Boko Haram have been conducting terrorist campaigns are largely populated by Muslims, this means that they are the main target of Boko Haram’s terrorism right? How come only 61% Nigerian Muslim had unfavorable view of ISIS, knowing very well that Boko Haram are a lot similar to ISIS?

    1. H-H2 years ago

      I think it may be the same reason why Pakistanis are generally neutral about ISIS, I presume.

      And Boko Haram has sorta merged into ISIS and have taken up the name ISIS West African Province.

  70. Bonnie France2 years ago

    Read “What ISIS Really Wants,” in The Atlantic. Very informative.

  71. Adam2 years ago

    What did the Saudis think?

  72. Rizvee Imran2 years ago

    We actually take IsIs as our greatest enemy , most Muslims do . Hope you guys understand that most of their victims are Muslims and even when they attack non Muslims , Muslims also pay the price for it , its sad , its heartbreaking that these many people have died in the hands of those lunatics and we can’t do anything ..

    1. irfan2 years ago

      In two years the ISIS has killed nearly two million Muslims alone.

      1. Ron Murphy2 years ago

        Is this WHY they are considered an enemy? How about if they only targeted infidels?

        1. H-H2 years ago

          From whatever I’m getting from the news, I think they consider all non-Wahhabis as infidels.

    2. Nige2 years ago

      Apart from just coming out and saying that the book they use for their justifications is just an iron age creation myth, and a story made up by a guy to suit his own political ends.

      It’s taught as literal and unchanging truth, and it is basically a supremacist screed.

      Until the Muslim world renounces that, these movements will just continue.

  73. Sam W.2 years ago

    The author tries very hard to emphasize the fact that a majority of Muslims have an unfavorable view of ISIS (no surprise, and a pretty low bar if you ask me), but it seems to me the real headline is “ISIS enjoys double-digit support in many Muslim countries, including Malaysia”.

    If “moderately Muslim” Malaysia has an 11% ISIS approval rating, what must it be in places like Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lybia, and Saudi Arabia?

  74. Odinia2 years ago

    And in Saoudi Arabia ?

  75. Ron Maimon2 years ago

    The favorable percentages are attributable to statistical error and ignorant responses. The level of actual support is ZERO PERCENT, as ISIS is not an indigenous movement.

  76. Terio2 years ago

    The handful of Arabs I’ve talked to about ISIS from Jordan tend to think that ISIS is a creation of the Mossad. I wonder what is the prevalence of that view?

  77. Akash Sunit2 years ago

    the source of all these problems is the quran. allah has constantly held hatred for non-believers as well as displaying narcissism by talking about himself throughout the quran.

    the quran promotes hatred. although i can’t say that it promotes killing. with that being said, most muslims are nice people.

    shows how many members of islam are true followers.

    1. Jonathan2 years ago

      I’m always blown away by the non-Muslims who come in telling Muslims which one is a “true Musim” or not.

  78. Donald K.2 years ago

    The Pakistanis are a very radicalized people (though in part owing to heavy Saudi influence)…they account for most of the extremism in the UK btw. And unsurprisingly, the perpetrator of the attempted Manhattan bombing was also a Pakistani:…

    Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who has advised Mr Obama, told The Sunday Telegraph: “The British Pakistani community is recognised as probably al-Qaeda’s best mechanism for launching an attack against North America.…

    1. H-H2 years ago

      All I can see is that Pakistanis are getting quite the bashing. Maybe it’s pretty obvious. Poor guys…

  79. D. Cohen2 years ago

    The favorable percentages are still too high, and Pakistan lives up to its corrupt reputation.

    1. S. Naqvi2 years ago

      D. Cohen, don’t be so small minded. The favorable percentage in Pakistan is clearly only 9%. The majority is Don’t know. And there’s good reason for that. Because they literally don’t know. Watch any Pakistani news media and they don’t talk about ISIS. They only talk about 3 things. Taliban, corruption and India. Repose this question with Taliban instead of ISIS and you would get a different result altogether. But, it’s nice jumping to conclusions, right? Being lazy is easy.

    2. SalmanNaseer2 years ago

      Given that Pakistan has actually been on the receiving end of much more brutal attacks, lack of disapproval for ISIS should not be construed as tacit popular support for the group. It is just that Pakistanis have their hands full of Taliban, and ISIS does not feature prominently in their collective consciousness – so far.
      Just put the name TTP (acronym for Pakistani Taliban in Urdu) in the survey question, and you will have very different results.
      We have our own share of follies, and I do believe that a strong public rejection of extremist Islam is yet to come. But to suggest – from the results of this survey – that Pakistanis are in cahoots with ISIS (or are cool with them at the very least) would imply that majority of Pakistanis do not actually resent losing their dozens on almost weekly basis to these butchers. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    3. H-H2 years ago

      Two things:
      1) I’m quite sure they’ll also start hating ISIS the moment they’ll enter Pakistan and make a mess out of it.
      2) This data is outdated. It was published in Spring 2015. I think public opinion would change to a substantial degree within this much time, especially with all the events that have happened so far.
      Kindly stop passing away such sort of remarks around here, of you don’t mind. And the favorable %age is higher in Malaysia, Senegal and Nigeria. The majority is neutral primarily because either they’re illiterate or don’t read/watch the news.

    4. naarad2 years ago

      Pakistan is born out of hatred against it’s own history, mother and roots India. Iit is a country with lost Identity. It neither gets a recognition of true blue Islamic community nor can it deny its past. They desperately try to be more Muslim than those born in Mecca, hence the figures.

      1. H-H2 years ago

        Um… So you’re saying that they should’ve just sticked with India? Would that do them any good?

    5. Haroon2 years ago

      Such an immature and over-generalized conclusion drawn from the information provided. Not sure if you’re actually trolling or if you’re genuinely ignorant. If it’s the latter then I apologize for the tone: Folks on the internet are always too happy to bash Pakistan without having the complete information or even making an effort to learn more beyond what they consider to agree with their established world-view.

      As another commenter here, SalmanNaseer, has pointed out:

      “Given that Pakistan has actually been on the receiving end of much more brutal attacks, lack of disapproval for ISIS should not be construed as tacit popular support for the group. It is just that Pakistanis have their hands full of Taliban, and ISIS does not feature prominently in their collective consciousness – so far.”

      The local media here is more concerned with providing information about the army and government’s local efforts in combating terrorism. ISIS is not a primary concern for us as it is for the media in European countries or in US and Canada. So you can’t really blame the local people for having no opinion on them.