Representative Loretta Sanchez of California, who is running for Barbara Boxer’s open Senate seat, believes that as many as 20 percent of Muslims want to establish an Islamic caliphate by any means necessary.
Speaking on PoliticKING With Larry King, the Democrat asserted: “We know that there is a small group, and we don’t know how big that is — it can be anywhere between 5 and 20 percent, from the people that I speak to — that Islam is their religion and who have a desire for a caliphate and to institute that in any way possible.”
Sanchez added that this 5 to 20 percent “are willing to use and they do use terrorism.”
Applied to the global Muslim population of over 1.6 billion, her estimate would imply a pro-caliphate, pro-terrorist contingent of 80-320 million people worldwide.
Sanchez did not give a source for these figures, other than “the people she speaks to.” A recent Pew survey found minorities of Muslims supporting ISIS in several countries (including 20 percent of Nigerian Muslims, the highest figure), though in Lebanon, for example, ISIS’s unfavorables stood at 100 percent.
Some right-wing commentators were quick to point to that survey as evidence that Sanchez was correct, but the poll did not specifically ask about ISIS’s goal of re-establishing the early Islamic territorial empire known as the caliphate.
Other surveys by major polling outfits do not support her claim: A 2013 Pew poll found that while majorities in some Muslim-majority countries favor making Sharia (Islamic law) the law of the land, most said that law should only be applied to their fellow Muslims. More importantly, vast majorities of respondents in most countries rejected suicide bombings and other forms of violence in the name of Islam.
Gallup, in fact, has found that residents of Muslim countries are less likely than others to condone attacks on civilians by either militaries or individuals. By the way, which population has the highest support for military attacks against civilians? Americans, 49 percent of whom told Gallup they were sometimes justified. Gallup has also found Muslim Americans less likely than any other major religious group to believe that the killing of civilians is sometimes justified.
Perhaps realizing that parroting Donald Trump is probably not the best way to ingratiate oneself to Democratic voters in California, Sanchez later issued a statement clarifying that she “strongly support[s] the Muslim community in America and believe[s] that the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not support terrorism or ISIS.”
“We must enlist the voices of the Muslim community in our fight against ISIS instead of alienating them through fear-mongering and discrimination,” she continued. No word yet on whether she stands by her numbers.