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Turks dislike Islamic State, but would leave fight to others

A recent survey by Metropoll, a prominent Turkish polling company, indicates that only 1.3% of Turks are sympathetic toward the Islamic State.
A man smokes his waterpipe at the Galata bridge in Istanbul, April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR3KG89
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Turkey's position on the Islamic State (IS) has become a bit clearer with the Sept. 23 declaration by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the government will join the fight against the group. Turkey had officially designated the organization a “terrorist” group in October 2013, but Ankara’s fixation on the Bashar al-Assad regime as the fundamental problem in Syria overshadowed concerns about IS. The IS raid on Turkey’s Mosul Consulate in June 2014 helped Ankara wake up to the threat, but it also tied its hands, because IS took 46 Turkish citizens hostage in the operation.

Now that the hostages have been released, Ankara feels a bit more comfortable taking a bolder stance against IS. Moreover, Turkish public opinion does not seem to be an obstacle to such a position. In a recent New York Times op-ed, I wrote, “The Islamic State is an abomination for … Turkish society — which, despite some illiberal tendencies, subscribes to a peaceful and pro-democratic understanding of Islam.” This stance was confirmed by Metropoll, a prominent polling organization that takes monthly surveys of “Turkey’s Pulse.” The survey published Sept. 24 concerns Turkish public opinion on IS. Based on interviews with a statistically representative 1,876 individuals in 28 provinces, the survey revealed an overwhelming distaste for IS in Turkish society. Here are some of the highlights of the polling:

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