Poll: Arab Muslim youths say IS, Qaeda distort Islam
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Poll: Arab Muslim youths say IS, Qaeda distort Islam

Over 55% of respondents in Palestinian territories say radical jihadist groups pervert religion’s teachings

Illustrative photo of Islamic State militants, with an IS fighter waving the group flag in Fallujah, Iraq, west of Baghdad, June 28, 2015. (Militant website of IS, via AP)
Illustrative photo of Islamic State militants, with an IS fighter waving the group flag in Fallujah, Iraq, west of Baghdad, June 28, 2015. (Militant website of IS, via AP)

A majority of Arab Muslim youths see the actions of extremists such as the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam’s teachings, according to a new poll.

The Zogby Research Services poll of 5,374 young Muslim men and women from the Middle East and North Africa also found that many millennials blame corruption and repressive governments for the rise of jihadist groups.

“At least three-quarters of millennial respondents in all countries surveyed” said movements like IS and Al-Qaeda “are either a complete perversion of Islam’s teachings or mostly wrong,” the polling firm said.

The survey was conducted in October and November 2015 with respondents aged 15 to 34 in Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

More than 90 percent of respondents in Morocco and the UAE called both extremist groups a “complete perversion of Islam,” as did 83% of respondents in Egypt and more than 60% in Bahrain and Jordan.

More than 55% of respondents in the Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia also said the radical groups were distorting Islam’s teachings.

More than 30% of those polled in many countries, including 69% of respondents in the UAE and 50% in Morocco, said “corrupt, repressive, and unrepresentative governments” were the main causes of young men and women joining extremist groups.

Others blamed extreme religious teachings and poor levels of education.

“In most countries, the majority says that religion does not need to be reformed” but rather that religious discourse “needs to be made more relevant,” the polling firm’s chief James Zogby said while releasing the survey results.

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