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89% of Arabs hold negative views towards Islamic State

File Photo: The poll found that Jordanians were the most opposed to IS [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 December, 2015

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An overwhelming number of Arabs stand against the Islamic State group, reveals a new study by the Arab Center for Research & Policy Studies.

Almost nine out of 10 people in the Arab world hold negative or very negative views about the Islamic State group [IS, formerly ISIS], a new poll conducted by the Arab Center for Research & Policy Studies has uncovered.

The poll also found no colloration between religiosity and sympathy for IS.

The survey found favourable views among respondents in 12 Arab countries were split between people who described themselves as "very religious" and those who said they were "not religious".

The study was conducted after face-to-face interviews with 18,300 people, the largest public opinion poll of its kind in the Arab world.

The poll also touched on other subjects such as democracy, the Arab Spring, religion and the state, which will be covered by The New Arab in the coming days.

Results also showed an overwhelming majority of Arabs were against the goals and practices of the extremist militant group with only a small minority having any sympathy for IS.

This was slightly above a poll conducted last year which found that 85 percent of respondents held negative views of the group.

Only three percent said they had "very positive" views about the organisation which controls huge swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Where there was sympathy for the group, it appeared to be in areas of conflict or where there are deep-rooted political grievances.

[Click to enlarge]

Recent media reports have shown a large number of foreign recruits to IS led secular lifestyles before heading to Iraq or Syria.

This includes the "leader" of November's Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud had been seen by neighbours drinking whisky outside his home, and was spotted on previous occasions smoking cannabis, according to media reports.

Jordanians were the most the critical of the group with 96 percent saying their views towards the group were "very negative".

Only two percent were "very positive" or "positive to some extent" about IS.

Tunisia and Algeria followed with 94 and 69 percent having "very negative views" towards the extremists.

In Saudi Arabia, 89 percent of respondents said they had negative views towards IS.

Mauritania saw the most sympathy for the group, but even then almost three-quarters of respondents said they viewed the group negatively.

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