ISIL, Qaeda Distort Islam: Arab Muslim Youth

ABU DHABI – Rejecting their actions as distorting the real Islam, a majority of Muslim youth said they were against both Al-Qaeda and ISIL, accusing them of perverting Islamic teachings, a new poll has found.

“At least three-quarters of millennial respondents in all countries surveyed” said movements like ISIL and Al-Qaeda “are either a complete perversion of Islam’s teachings or mostly wrong,” the Zogby Research Services poll firm said, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

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Based on the opinion of 5374 young Muslim men and women from the Middle East and North Africa, the survey found that many millennials blame corruption and repressive governments for the rise of jihadist groups.

The survey was conducted in October and November 2015 with respondents aged 15 to 34 in Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories.

The opinion was shared by a majority of youth in different Arab countries, 90 percent in Morocco and UAE, 83 percent in Egypt and 60 percent in Bahrain and Jordan.

More than 55 percent of respondents in the Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia also said the radical groups were distorting Islam’s teachings.

More than 30 percent of those polled in many countries, including 69 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, however, blamed extremism on poor levels of religious 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,” the polling firm’s chief James Zogby said while releasing the survey results.