Almost half of French Muslims consider the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel to have been “an act of resistance against colonization” while nearly one in five expressed sympathy for the atrocities, according to a new survey published on Monday by Ifop, France’s leading pollster.
The survey contrasted French Muslim attitudes towards the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians with the population of France at large, uncovering significant differences regarding the perception of Hamas, French government policy in the region, and media coverage of the war in Gaza triggered by the Oct. 7 atrocities.
Asked whether they were sympathetic to Hamas, 19 percent of Muslim respondents answered affirmatively, compared with just three percent of the population overall. A majority of Muslims — 56 percent — said they were neither supportive of or opposed to Hamas, while a further 25 percent said they were opposed. Among the general population, 54 percent declared their antipathy towards Hamas, while a further 43 percent stated their neutrality on the question.
When asked to characterize the Hamas atrocities, 45 percent of Muslim respondents classed them as “resistance against colonization.” A further 26 percent described the Oct.7 atrocities as “war crimes” with another 29 percent describing them as “terrorist acts,” indicating a more or less even split among Muslims surveyed. Among the French population more broadly, a full 90 percent interpreted the Oct. 7 atrocities as “war crimes” and “terrorist acts.”
A further 62 percent of Muslim respondents said that Israel’s military response in Gaza amounted to “ethnic cleansing,” compared with 38 percent of respondents in the general population. Both segments, however, were in agreement with the contention that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reverberates in France’s domestic politics, as expressed by 76 percent of Muslims and 82 percent of the overall population.
Asked about the French government’s position, a clear majority of Muslims — 58 percent — believed that President Emmanuel Macron’s administration was sympathetic to Israel, compared with 20 percent in the population at large. Similar discrepancies were revealed in the question about media coverage, with 67 percent of Muslims saying that the French media is more sympathetic towards Israel, compared with 38 percent of the general population.
The demographic breakdown of Hamas sympathizers among French Muslims revealed that 50 percent of those under 25 supported the terrorist group, rising to 53 percent among those aged over 50. An average of 41 percent of Muslims aged between 25 and 49 answered similarly.
About six million Muslims live in France. A total of 1,022 people participated in the Ifop survey, which was conducted at the end of November.