The Sun tried to explain the '1 in 5 Muslims' poll but only made things worse

Louis Dor
Tuesday 24 November 2015 11:30
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(Pictures: The Sun/Screengrab

The Sun's editorial today attempted to justify a front page which received an unprecedented amount of complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso).

Today's editorial read:

It is shocking and depressing that even after the Paris slaughter one in five British Muslims we surveyed still has sympathy with young people who fly to Syria to become jihadist killers.

It concluded:

Some on the political Left claim ours was a 'rogue' poll. In fact the numbers expressing sympathy for jihadists were down on similar surveys by the BBC and Sky after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

That should be welcomed. But all three polls reveal an undeniable truth:

Among British Muslims, a minority - but a substantial one - appear sympathetic to a death cult which is among the most evil in history.

Once we all accept that, Britain is better placed to tackle it.

Disregarding the ambiguous phrasing of the question, which has already been debunked, let's compare some data that the Sun chose not to prioritise.

As the Telegraph's Asa Bennett pointed out, the Sun/Survation poll results for 18-34 year olds compared interestingly with that of a Sky News/Survation poll from March, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks:

Muslims were also less likely to have a lot of sympathy than non-Muslims in March, which as the Sun's newest poll has helpfully and correctly pointed out, is a sentiment which has since decreased in the Muslim community:

Recent reports have also questioned the methodology of the poll and whether it is statistically representative.

As the Guardian reports, the sample was determined by filtering Survation's database of 42 million profiles against a list of "1,500 Muslim surnames".

Prospective respondents were then asked on the phone whether they were Muslim or not, before taking the poll.

It is also reported that the the Sun's poll was carried out by Survation, rather than YouGov as usual, because YouGov did not wish to take part.

A YouGov spokesperson said:

To survey Britain’s Muslim population, particularly at a time of such heightened sensitivities, requires the kind of time, care, and therefore cost, that is beyond a newspaper’s budget.

Survation has since issued a statement in response to the controversy surrounding the front page, in which it defends its practices, but not the Sun's editorial interpretation of the poll:

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.

This latest poll in fact shows a fall in sympathy with fighters travelling to Syria among Muslims since March, something which we would consider the most pertinent new finding of that particular question.

Ipso has recorded 450 complaints for Monday's front page, the most since the watchdog opened for business on 8 September 2014.

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