A poll in the Middle East and North Africa has found an overwhelming majority of young Arabs reject the so called “Islamic State” or ISIS and its extremist ambitions, reports The Guardian.
The eighth annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, released Tuesday, revealed that Arab youth believe the rise of Daesh (another name of Islamic State or ISIS) remains “the single largest challenge facing the Middle East.” However, just one in six respondents believes the group will succeed in its goal of establishing an Islamic state.
— Arab Youth Survey (@ArabYouthSurvey) April 12, 2016
Only 13 percent of Arab youths said they could see themselves supporting the dreaded terrorist group even if it did not use much violence, compared with 19 percent in 2015.
When asked what pulls Arab youth toward IS, nearly a quarter (24 percent) said struggling to find jobs and opportunities are “the main recruitment drivers,” One in four respondents also said they could see no reason why anyone would like to join Daesh. Eighteen percent of them said people support it because its interpretation of Islam is superior to other religions. Another 17 percent think sectarian tension between Sunnis and Shiites is the reason why Arabs resort to the terrorist group. The rise of secular Western values in the region was cited by 15 percent.
While around 39 percent of Arab youth considered the gory conflict in Syria as a proxy war fought by regional and global players, 29 percent saw it as a revolution against the Bashar al-Assad regime, and 22 percent viewed it as a civil war among different religious sects in Syrians.
— Nick Schifrin (@nickschifrin) April 13, 2016
The survey also focused on many other issues that affect young Arab. Nearly half think Shia–Sunni tensions are getting worse. Two in three youths want their leaders to do more to promote women’s rights.
The eighth annual survey also indicates the optimism that the region would be better off in the wake of the 2011 uprisings is steadily waning. It found that five years after the start of the Arab spring, most youngsters believe that maintaining stability (53 percent) was more important than promoting democracy (28 percent). In contrast, 92 percent of Arab youth, in 2011, said “living in a democracy” was their most cherished dream.
— Arab Youth Survey (@ArabYouthSurvey) April 11, 2016
Donald A. Baer, Worldwide Chair and CEO, Burson-Marsteller, said that the survey helps to reach and understand Arab youth.
“This is an important survey of how Arab youth… think about the evolving and challenging environment in which they live. Today’s Arab youth are tomorrow’s leaders, business owners, workers and consumers, and the information in this survey helps all of us to reach and understand this group better.”
Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Global Chief Strategy Officer, said that the Arab world is characterised by its vast youth population given 60 percent of the population below the age of 30.
“The ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey serves as a barometer of the overarching social, political and economic trends that define the Arab world through the eyes of its youth.”
Sunil John, CEO of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, described the survey as a key referral source across the world.
The survey completed 3,500 face-to-face interviews with Arab men and women aged between 18 and 24 years from 16 different countries during January and February.
In an analysis accompanying the survey, Hassan Hassan, an ISIS expert at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, sounded a note of caution about those results. He believes the Islamic State “still attracts a narrow audience that remains committed to its radical ideas, and it is important to understand this source of appeal, as even this limited appeal can have devastating consequences for the region.”
“It is a challenge that will likely outlive the group even if it’s expelled from the area it controls.”
[Image via Shutterstock]