Spike in global fear of Islamic extremism
London - The world has never been more concerned about Islamic extremism than it is today, polling data from the Pew Research Center revealed.
The data, published July 16th, indicate that concern of Islamic extremism is trending upwards not just in the West, but also among Arab and Muslim states, following the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS).
Since 2011, the percentage of people who say they are “very concerned” about Islamic extremism in their own country increased across the board in the West; by 38% in France; 29% in Spain; 21% in the United Kingdom; 20% in Germany; and 17% in the United States.
According to the Pew findings, 67% of those asked in France say they are “very concerned” about domestic Islamic extremism while the figure was 61% in Spain, 52% in the United Kingdom, 42% in Germany and 53% in the United States.
On average, the Pew survey indicated that more than half of respondents (52%) in nine Western countries said they were “very concerned’ about the threat of Islamic extremism. This is a dramatic increase that coincides with the rise of ISIS and unrest across the Middle East, particularly considering that fear of Islamic extremism had trended downwards from 2006-11.
In every country that was surveyed, fears of ISIS were tied closely with fear of Islamic extremism in general. The demographic breakdown of the data reveals that older people are more likely to express concern about Islamic extremism than younger generations, while women respondents say they are more concerned than men about Islamic extremism in the majority of Western countries surveyed.
Among US respondents, Republicans, women, older people and those who identified themselves as religious expressed more concern about Islamic extremism, the survey revealed.
As for the Arab and Muslim world, there was less concern about Islamic extremism and ISIS when compared to the Western countries polled, although the Pew survey did not encompass states, such as Syria and Iraq, where ISIS is present or where ISIS has carried out major attacks, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
In Lebanon, where millions of refugees have settled after fleeing ISIS from Syria, stated concern about Islamic extremism stands at 67% — the same percentage as France.
The only country that scored higher was Nigeria (68%), home to the Boko Haram terrorist group, which pledged allegiance to ISIS in March.
The breakdown in the data from Lebanon shows heightened fears of Islamic extremism across religions as 70% of Lebanese Christians asked said they were “very concerned” about Islamic extremism, while 66% of Lebanese Shia and 60% of Sunnis said the same.
One anomaly was Turkey, which evidenced the least concern towards Islamic extremism among the countries polled despite sharing a border with ISIS-controlled territory in Syria.
According to the data, 19% of those asked in Turkey said they were “very concerned” about Islamic extremism and even fewer said they were concerned about the threat of ISIS.
The results of the poll were published four days before a major ISIS attack on a Kurdish cultural centre in the south-eastern city of Suruç close to the Syrian border that resulted in the death of at least 27 people. The Pew Research Center polled more than 21,000 people across 21 countries from April 5 through May 21.