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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Paul Distorts Islamic Views of Bombings

Sen. Rand Paul said “20 percent of the Islamic public in England” thought the 2005 subway bombings in London “were okay.” That’s inaccurate. It’s true that 20 percent expressed sympathy for the “feelings and motives” of the bombers, but only 1 percent thought the bombing was “right.”

Paul, a Republican candidate for president, made his remarks in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. The discussion was about the remarks of another presidential candidate, Ben Carson, who said he would not want a Muslim to serve as U.S. president.

Asked if he could support a Muslim president, Paul said he could under certain circumstances and went on to say that Carson had a point.

Paul, Sept. 22: Think about what he’s saying. In England, for example, 20 percent of the Islamic public in England thought the bombings were OK on the subway. These are important questions to ask if you have someone who is Muslim running for office. Do you think violence is OK?

We asked the Paul campaign for the source of the senator’s claim, but we did not get a response. We will update this item if we do.

However, we found that the Telegraph on Feb. 19, 2006, reported that 20 percent of those surveyed said they expressed sympathy for the “feelings and motives” of the bombers who carried out the subway attacks, which killed 52 people on July 7, 2005.

But that does not mean that the 20 percent thought the bombings were justified. In fact, the full question in that poll — which was conducted by ICM Research and surveyed 500 British Muslims — asked: “Irrespective of whether you think the London bombings were justified or not, do you personally have any sympathy with the feelings and motives of those who carried out the attacks?” (Emphasis is ours.)

Also, the survey asked if it was “right” or “wrong” for “Muslims to have bombed London,” and 1 percent said it was “right.” Ninety-six percent said it was “wrong.” Another 2 percent said they didn’t know, and 1 percent refused to answer.

The Telegraph wrote, “The ICM opinion poll also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the ‘feelings and motives’ of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity.”

Paul could have said that 20 percent of British Muslims were sympathetic to the subway bombers’ motives, but not that 20 percent thought the bombings “were okay.”

— Eugene Kiely and Rebecca Heilweil