Do one in five UK Muslims sympathise with Britons fighting for IS?

23 November 2015
What was claimed

Nearly one in five British Muslims has some sympathy with those who have fled the UK to fight for IS in Syria.

Our verdict

The survey asked about sympathy with "young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria", not just those fighting in the conflict, and not just those fighting for IS.

"Nearly one in five British Muslims has some sympathy with those who have fled the UK to fight for IS in Syria."

The Sun

"One in five British Muslims has sympathy for those who have travelled to Syria to join ISIS, a poll reveals today."

The Daily Mail

This isn't correct; respondents to the survey were asked how much sympathy they had

"with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria".

About 20% of respondents said "a lot" or "some". What's not certain is that all respondents answered the question with only IS in mind, or whether they were thinking of other parties in the Syrian conflict.

Joining fighters in Syria doesn't necessarily mean fighting alongside them either; some women have married people fighting in Syria.

This poll, conducted three days ago, found a lower proportion expressing sympathy than a poll conducted on behalf of Sky in March. Then, 28% of respondents said that they had "a lot" or "some" sympathy with young Muslims leaving the UK to fight in Syria.

Update 23 November 2015

This article originally said the claim "isn't quite correct"—we've removed the "quite" to strengthen our conclusion. We've also added a claim from the Daily Mail to the header of the article.

Update 24 November 2015

The company that conducted this survey, Survation, has now issued a public comment on the Sun's use of the findings. The key point for us is the following extract:

"…there is a distinction between the work we do and how clients chose to present this work. Survation do not support or endorse the way in which this poll's findings have been interpreted. Neither the headline nor the body text of articles published were discussed with or approved by Survation prior to publication. For reference, our own coverage and analysis can be found here.

Furthermore, Survation categorically objects to the use of any of our findings by any group, as has happened elsewhere on social networks, to incite racial or religious tensions."

We will be seeking public corrections from both The Sun and the Mail.

Update 26 Mar 2016

The Sun has now withdrawn its online article and published online and in print an IPSO adjudication which found the coverage as a whole was "significantly misleading". The Mail's article is also no longer online.

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