Survey: Most Young Middle East Muslims Believe ISIS Perverts Islam

Many survey respondents blamed corruption and repressive governments for the rise of jihadist groups.

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Muslims praying outside the Dome of the Rock Mosque, on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, during the Eid al-Adha holiday last week.Credit: AP

A majority of Muslim youths in the Middle East and North Africa regard extremist groups such as the Islamic State and Al-Qaida as a perversion of Islam and its teachings, according to a new survey.

"At least three-quarters of millennial respondents in all countries surveyed" regard groups like ISIS and Al-Qaida as "either a complete perversion of Islam's teachings or mostly wrong," according to the survey conducted by Egypt's Zogby Research Services

The survey, which was reported by AFP and Arab media, polled 5,374 young Arab Muslim men and women in Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. It was conducted last October and November.

In Morocco and the UAE, over 90 percent of respondents called both extremist groups a "complete perversion of Islam." The same view was held by 83 percent of respondents in Egypt and more than 60 percent in Bahrain and Jordan.

In the Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia, over 55 percent of those surveyed said the radical groups were distorting Islam's teachings.

The survey also found that many of the respondents blamed corruption and repressive governments for the rise of jihadist groups.

Just under 70 percent of respondents in the UAE and 50 percent 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," Zogby said in a statement accompanying the survey results.