In an online poll conducted by Arab news outlet Al-Jazeera.net, 81% of respondents said they supported the conquests of Islamic State. The poll was conducted in Arabic and generated 38,000 responses.
The poll, which asked in Arabic, “Do you support the organizing victories of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?” has generated over 38,000 responses thus far, with only 19% of respondents voting “NO” to supporting ISIS.
Al Jazeera Arabic’s television audience is largely made up of Sunni Muslims living in the Arab world. Its biggest viewership numbers come from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, along with a large amount of satellite television viewers in the United States, according to research estimates. AlJazeera.net is most popular in Saudi Arabia, the United States, Egypt, Morocco, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the Alexa webpage analytics site. Al Jazeera claims that it has over 40 million viewers in the Arab world.
The news that an overwhelming majority of respondents to the Al Jazeera Arabic poll strongly support ISIS may not surprise long-time trackers of the controversial network. The news outfit, which is run by Qatar’s ruling family and headquartered in Doha, has a track record rife with allegations that the organization supports the narratives of Sunni terrorist groups.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States, the Al Jazeera headquarters in Doha proudly displayed silhouettes revering Osama bin Laden as a prophet-like figure, according to a New York Times investigation. In an Al Jazeera survey taken on September 11, 2006, 50% of respondents said they supported Osama bin Laden.
The network also faces multiple accusations that it reports with a strong bias in favor of Sunni Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which is designated as a terrorist group in many countries. In 2013, dozens of its Egypt bureau staff members resigned in protest of the network’s “biased coverage” in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. More recently, In mid-May, a former Al Jazeera English journalist accused his former employer of being an arm of the foreign policy of Qatar. He also described the network as being dedicated to the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to legal testimony.
Although the poll is hardly scientific, the number of "yes" responses shows a base of support for the terrorists that far exceeds expectations. Part of that is certainly the anti-establishment nature of their campaign. The effort to overthrow Sunni royal families is approved by a vast majority of Arabs in the Middle East, who see the oil-rich potentates as oppressors.
Beyond that, ISIS is standing up to the U.S. and the West – always popular in the anti-American Middle East. Apparently, beheadings, brutal executions, persecuting Christians, and killing non-Sunni minorities is just fine with a majority of Muslims in the Middle East.
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