The poll, conducted by ICM Research for the Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya, has indicated that the number of Europeans “supporting” the Islamic State (IS) is alarmingly high; especially among French respondents.
ICM interviewed 3,007 respondents in three out of the four largest countries in the European Union: Britain (1,000), France (1,006) and Germany (1,001). The survey found that a significant number of respondents had a positive attitude toward IS in the UK (7 percent) and Germany (4 percent), and that the number of French citizens supporting the extremist movement has reached 16 percent.
“The poll of European attitudes towards the group, carried out by ICM for Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya, revealed that 16 percent of French citizens have a positive opinion of IS. This percentage increases among younger respondents, spiking at 27 percent for those aged 18-24,” Newsweek magazine reports.
Anne-Elizabeth Moutet, Newsweek’s France correspondent, said that she was “unsurprised by the news.”
“This is the ideology of young French Muslims from immigrant backgrounds, unemployed to the tune of 40 percent, who’ve been deluged by satellite TV and internet propaganda,” she underscored, as cited by Newsweek.
The American media outlet points out that there are five million Muslims living in France, “largely of North African descent,” who arrived in France after leaving its former North African colonies in 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
“This is not a result of sympathy of a significant number of French people for this extremist terrorist organization. This is simply a manifestation of the country’s accumulated potential rejection of the existing system as a whole. This is a form of rejection of the elites, a form of protest,” stressed Yury Rubinsky, the head of the Center for French Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was quoted as saying by RT.
However, as Vox has noted, a growing number of Muslims in Europe “are not just expressing their support for IS in polls”: they are actively joining the jihadi movement in Syria and Iraq.
Experts claim that about 2,000 volunteers from Europe are now fighting for the Islamic State in the Middle East. According to France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, “today there are nearly 900 from France who are part of this phenomenon [IS],” the Associated Press reported in mid-August. At the same time, Newsweek reported that “at least 1,500 young British Muslims have been recruited by extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria” during the last three years, citing Khalid Mahmood, a British MP.