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No, French Muslims do not support Hamas!

18 December 2023 News   216081  

In the tense context of the resurgence of anti-Semitic and (to a lesser extent) anti-Muslim acts, since the attacks of October 7, 2023, our Magazine Screen Watch commissioned the IFOP to carry out an exclusive survey among French Muslims about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its possible repercussions in France. This survey, the detailed results of which we are publishing here, provides three main lessons: two good news and one bad news.

The first positive point is the very weak support of French Muslims for Hamas. Only 19% express sympathy for the Islamist movement. A very reassuring figure, given the attachment of French Muslims to the Palestinian cause which is illustrated in this poll by 59% of sympathy for the Palestinian Authority (compared to only 10% among all French people).

This weak support for Hamas contrasts with the extreme tensions which have emerged, notably following the banning of the first pro-Gaza demonstrations in France. Especially since sympathy for the Palestinian Islamist movement is moderated by the degree of religiosity and the age of the respondents: only 14% among non-practicing French Muslims, compared to 28% among very regular practitioners; 24% among 15-24 year olds, compared to only 17% among those aged 35 and over.

An unprecedented sympathy of French Muslims for Israel, especially among… the most religious!

Even more surprising, 9% of French Muslims express sympathy for Israel. This empathy for the Jewish state is an unusual fact (Even among all French people, sympathy for Israel does not exceed 28%). This is explained by the emotion provoked, including among French Muslims, by the atrocities of the October 7 attacks.

Another unusual indicator, French Muslims who say they are ”very religious” express more sympathy for Israel (14%) than ”non-practicing” (9%) or ”occasional practicing” (5%). A phenomenon which may be surprising, but which has already been noted in several Muslim countries where the people with the most intense religiosity (provided they are not followers of jihadism) are those who say they are most shocked by the horrors of October 7: they were stunned that fighters who claim to be Muslims could carry out rapes, murders of children, kidnappings of old people and mutilations of corpses, thus flouting the very strict “code of war ” decreed by Sharia law which specifically prohibits attacking women, children and the elderly or mutilating corpses.

Faced with the atrocities of Hamas, the majority of these Muslims with very intense religiosity have taken refuge in denial: for them, such horrors cannot be the work of Islamist fighters. They thus fuelled conspiracy theories according to which the atrocities of October 7 were “inventions of Israeli propaganda”. Others (more in the minority) were more lucid: while condemning these abuses, naturally expressed empathy for the Israeli victims. They are 14% in France.

No one wants the conflict to be imported into France

Second good news, and not the least, among the lessons of this survey: the possible repercussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict arouse fear among the overwhelming majority of French Muslims (76%), as among all French people (82 %). Proof that no one wants to see the Middle Eastern conflict transposed into France. These figures are, therefore, the exact opposite of certain very popular theses, notably from the far right, according to which France is on the verge of communitarian implosion.

However, if French Muslims agree with all their fellow citizens on the need to protect themselves from the possible repercussions in France of the conflict in the Middle East, the positions of each party detach themselves from this point of consensus and diametrically oppose on other aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian question:

– 62% of French Muslims consider the term “ethnic cleansing” appropriate to designate the operations of the Israeli army and settlers in the West Bank, while on the contrary 62% of all French people find this term inappropriate;

– 67% of French Muslims consider the treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the French media favourable to Israel (only 22% consider it objective), while 50% of all French people find this media treatment rather objective (38% criticize it for being pro-Israeli);

– As for the position of the French government in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 58% of French Muslims think that it leans more towards Israel (only 13% find it neutral), while 31% of all French people believe that their government’s position is neutral (20% find it pro-Israeli). Another point of divergence, on this subject, the opinions of French Muslims are more decided: only 12% say that they do not know, while 43% of all French people cannot form an idea, without doubt due to the errors of the Macron’s ‘‘at the same time’’ doctrine which makes French positions on the conflict contradictory and difficult to understand.

45% describe the attacks of October 7 as actions of resistance!

The most problematic aspect, among the indicators of divergence between French Muslims and all of their fellow citizens, concerns the character of the October 7 attacks. This is the dark point of this Syrvey: paradoxically, while they only support Hamas in a very small minority, 45% of French Muslims consider the attacks of October 7 as “resistance actions against colonization” (only 10 % of all French people share this opinion). The figures are even more distressing among younger people, the most religious and supporters of the far left (50% of 15-24 year olds, as many among regular religious practitioners and Jean-Luc Mélanchon voters).

The fact remains, however, that a majority of French Muslims (55%) condemn the attacks of October 7: 36% qualify them as “war crimes” and 29% consider them as “acts of terrorists”.