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Most Young Arabs Reject Islamic State


People flee their homes on April 12, 2016, during clashes between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State group in Hit, 85 miles (140 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo)

People flee their homes on April 12, 2016, during clashes between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State group in Hit, 85 miles (140 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo)

The large majority of young Arab adults say they do not support Islamic State (IS) militants.

And more than 75 percent say they do not believe that the Islamic State will create a caliphate, or government based on Islamic law.

These are among the findings from interviews done with 3,500 young Arabs in 14 nations. They were aged 18 to 24.

The interviews were done by ASDA’A Burson Marsteller, a public relations company. The research comes at a time European governments worry about radicalized young people joining the Islamic State and carrying out terrorist attacks.

Seventy-eight percent of young adults reject the Islamic State even if it “did not use so much violence.” Thirteen percent, down from 19 percent in 2015, say they would support Islamic State if it was less violent.

As to why some young people join the militant group, 24 percent said they believe it is because of a shortage of jobs. Seventeen percent say the support comes because some like the Islamic State’s view of Islam.

Hassan Hassan is an Islamic State expert at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington, D.C. He offered his views on the survey and why young people continue to join the Islamic State.

“It did not simply invent the problems the responders identified as factors. “Put another way," (Islamic State) "is a symptom of a growing disease that needs to be tackled, and not just the disease itself,” he said in a statement.

Some other findings of the survey include:

  • More than half of Arab young adults said they believe that religion is too big an influence in the Middle East.
  • 63 percent said they view the United States as an ally, 32 percent as an enemy. But in Iraq, just 6 percent of young Iraqis view the United States as an ally and 93 percent as an enemy.
  • Fewer than half the young Arabs, 44 percent, said they believe they can get good jobs in their countries. Only 2 percent of young people in Yemen say they can get good jobs. In Libya, the percentage is 7 percent.
  • Just 36 percent of young Arabs feel the Arab world is better off after the Arab Spring uprisings. That is down from 72 percent in 2012, at the height of the unrest.

I'm Bruce Alpert.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

interview n. a meeting at which people talk to each other in order to ask questions and get information

radicalized adj. someone who becomes more radical especially in politics

respondern. a person who reacts to a request for information or help

factor – n. something that helps produce or influence a result

symptomn. a change which shows that something bad exists

tacklev. to deal with something difficult

stabilityn. the quality or state of something that is not easily changed or likely to change

surveyn. an activity in which many people are asked a question or a series of questions in order to gather information about what most people do or think about something

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