In July 2015, the Pew Research Center published an excellent piece called “Extremism Concerns Growing in West and Predominantly Muslim Countries”. If you have not read the report, you can find it here.
At the heart of this study, is the sentiment towards the ISIS by Western and Muslim majority countries. Pew research shows that the sentiment is overwhelmingly negative; however, it is not the negative sentiment that impacts ISIS. Rather, it is the groups ability to separate the “signal from the noise” and to uncover the smaller minority of positive sentiment from local communities around the world - sympathizers to Islamic State - which ISIS has been so successful at identifying, courting and eventually recruiting.
As is indicated in this graphic below, the leftist 18-29 year old range is most at risk of influence from Islamic State. With even 1% positive sentiment towards Islamic State, recruiters a world away will make headway into local communities. This is further perpetuated by politics shaped by post-modern, anti-nation state and moral relativism that have taken root in the west, with ISIS offering a channel for the frustration, anger and disgust for Western systems that is perpetuated by leftist politics. (WSJ)
We are firm believers in separating Islam from ISIS; however, we must also confront the fact that ISIS is twisting Islam for its own agenda. As we look at global trends, the shift in religions around the world shows that Islam is quickly outpacing every other religion; this is matched by Muslim population growth.
While the unaffiliated religious population shrinks between now and 2050, the majority of those now affiliated with religion will lean towards Islam. In and of itself, this is not an issue, but ISIS will continue to capitalize upon this opportunity to pervert Islam and draw in a larger crowd of followers.
The ability of ISIS to recruit the youth and disenfranchised margins of society will ultimately create a tipping point within Islam. This will force a change in relationship with the West and non-Muslim countries that will impact both religious and political interpretations of Islam as a whole.