Sun Page 1 23 Nov 15


On 20th November, Survation carried out a poll for The Sun on Muslim attitudes, asking for their views on a number of questions. “The Sun” has splashed on its Page 1 today with these headlines:

Of course, the left-wing media sphere is all a-Twitter with it, claiming this to be a misinterpretation, all the usual suspects: The Guardian, The Independent, but also Russia Today. Huffington Post had a surprisingly balanced article on it.

Being in receipt of the Survation data tables for this poll, I decided to see for myself exactly what was asked, and what the responses were.  We need to look at it in the context of the overall poll, all the questions. Here’s the facts. Most of the questions (bar question 5) were “Which of the following statements is closest to your view?” The options for answers were different, so I will provide a label for the nature of those options:

Question 1 – Identity

The options for this one were:

“My Muslim identity is more important to me than my British identity” 17%

“My British identity is more important to me than my Muslim identity” 5.6%

“They are equally important” 75.5%

While 75% take a balanced view, more than 3 times the number of Muslims put their Muslim identity ahead of their British identity, rather than putting being British ahead of being Muslim, and this rises to 5 times amongst the 18-34 age group. Women, not surprisingly, take the more balanced view.

Question 2 – Integration

British Muslims are doing enough to integrate into British society” 60.7%

“British Muslims are not doing enough to integrate into British society” 22.1%

“It is not important for British Muslims to integrate into British society” 3%

The percentages don’t vary much between the sexes and age groups. The more interesting answer would be if they asked British natives the same question: one might suspect that the responses to the first two possible answers would be the other way around – we will never know though.

Question 3 – Condemnation Responsibility

“It is the responsibility of Muslims to condemn terrorist acts carried out in the name of Islam” 51%

“It is not the responsibility of Muslims to condemn terrorist acts carried out in the name of Islam” 38%

This is more worrying: nearly 2 in 5 think they have no responsibility, collectively, to condemn such acts committed by their “brothers”.  Surprisingly, women were less likely to accept responsibility, with the percentages being 40% and 43%, but not surprisingly for younger Muslims it was an equal split on 44%.

Question 4 –Condemnation by Leaders

Islamic leaders in the UK have publicly condemned ISIS too much” 8%

“Islamic leaders in the UK have not publicly condemned ISIS enough” 30%

“Islamic leaders in the UK have publicly condemned ISIS about the right amount” 37%

“Don’t Know” 26%

There were don’t know options to the other questions, but this is a significantly higher number, so I am showing it, it being significant in its own right with one in four Muslims lost for an answers. Less than one in three feel the leaders need to condemn ISIS more, but again, the response from British natives would be interesting, again it would be significantly higher against this option.

Question 5 – “Thinking about the root causes of ISIS terrorist attacks, which do you think is the single biggest root cause?”

For this, there was a range of possible causes, but they had to pick one of them:

“Western foreign policy, such as the invasion of Iraq” 38% (slightly higher amongst men)

“The poverty of and discrimination against Muslims in Western countries” 6% (no great variations)

“ISIS leaders who exploit vulnerable young people” 25%

“Something else/Don’t Know” (combining 2 options): 31%

It is gratifying to see that very few play the “victim card” in terms of their status in UK. The employed will be doing better than they would in their home territories, but it would also seem that those on benefits are content with their lot, too, the statistics telling us how many of them are on benefits. (50% plus)

Question 6 (Standard Question) – Personal Sympathy

“I have a lot of sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria” 5.3% (higher amongst young people and surprisingly women)

“I have some sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria” 14.5%

“I have no sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria” 71.4%

“Don’t Know” 8.8% (significantly small)

This is the Question that backs up The Sun’s headline, which was “1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadists”. One might argue that the headline doesn’t mention jihad, but we have seen widely reported all the young British muslims heading for Syria, and their only destination mentioned in the press has been ISIS.

In my opinion, in a court of law, this would stack up as a fair representation (as a short headline) of what the poll asked and the responses, as 14.5% (some sympathy) and 5.3% (a lot of sympathy) adds up to 19.8%.  However, this number is no more worrying than some of the earlier questions and answers, like the community taking responsibility for condemning terrorism. However, if someone takes The Sun to court over it, let’s see what the outcome is?

Question 7 – Bombing Syria

David Cameron is right in wanting to extend the bombing of ISIS from Iraq to Syria” 19%

“David Cameron is wrong in wanting to extend the bombing of ISIS from Iraq to Syria” 56%

“Don’t Know” 25.5% (second highest ‘don’t know’ response)

This is actually not surprising. If one did poll all UK residents, how different would the answer be? Two years ago when he wanted to bomb them, a majority of Brits were against bombing Syria. Perhaps more do now, but we just don’t know.

The main conclusion is that this poll missed a trick. It was a sample of 1000 Muslims. There should have been a sample of 1000 non-Muslims as well, asking them all the same questions, except Question 1, although even that set of options could have modified to ask if a person felt more kinship to being British than to their religious/ethnic origins. In fact, Survation has come out with a response to all the criticism of them for their poll, and they said this:

Our view remains that the most meaningful way to interpret the results of this polling is in the proper context alongside a comparable sample of non-muslims, as we did in March of this year using identical methodology and the same question wording.

This comparison shows that “sympathy with” (distinct from “support for”) those travelling to fight in Syria (among any group) exists as a limited, minority view among both muslimsand non-muslims, particularly among young people of both groups.

At the end of the day, The Sun’s treatment of the poll results was unsurprising, as was the leftie Twittersphere response.