Where people live affects their world views, and fear makes that fact particularly apparent.
In May, the Pew Research Center conducted a global survey in which it asked 45,435 people in 40 different countries what they view as the greatest threat to the world.
The following data reflects what respondents in various countries reported they felt “very concerned” about.
Pew Research Center
Worldwide, 41% of people surveyed report they’re “very concerned” about ISIS and with good reason. The Islamic extremist group has seized large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria since they first captured the international spotlight in June 2014. The group’s swift growth as well as its use of gruesome violence to strike fear and recruit new followers has alarmed people around the world.
Hassan Hassan, author of the book “ISIS: Inside The Army of Terror,” told the Wall Street Journal that ISIS will benefit from a recently signed nuclear deal between Iran and the United States and its allies by making disaffected Sunnis feel even more like the US and Iran are conspiring against them.
Frederic Hof, a former State Department policy planner on Syria says the Iran deal will in turn help ISIS recruit more people in Syria, being that Iran supports the unpopular regime of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, who is accused of bombing his own people. Hof believes Syrians will look to ISIS now more than ever as their only salvation.
Meanwhile, new ISIS beheading videos continue to pop up on Youtube.
Iran and its nuclear program rate as the second largest concern for Americans (62% are “very concerned”) and the top concern for Israel, where 53% of people are “very concerned,” the most of any issue on the survey for Israelis.
The news of a nuclear deal signed between Iran and the United States and its allies that will curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions was met with mixed reactions in the United States and a resoundingly negative reaction in Israel.
“This is a bad mistake of historic proportions,” Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after news of the deal broke, believing that lifting sanctions on Iran, an enemy of Israel, will now have a sure path to developing nuclear weapons.
President Barack Obama, however, believes the deal is the best way to lessen tensions between the United States and Iran.
“My hope is that building on this deal, we could continue to have conversations with Iran that incentivise them to behave differently in the region,” Obama said at a White House press conference on Wednesday.
Chinese aggression is a concern largely centered in Asia, where 31% of respondents report they’re “very concerned.” The nations most concerned about China are Vietnam (60%), the Philippines (56%), and Japan (52%).
Their concerns are likely rooted in China’s construction of military bases in the South China Sea, many of which are uncomfortably close to neighbouring states.
“As China seeks to make sovereign land out of sandcastles and redraw maritime boundaries, it is eroding regional trust and undermining investor confidence,”
US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in May. “Its behaviour threatens to set a new precedent whereby larger countries are free to intimidate smaller ones, and that provokes tensions, instability and can even lead to conflict.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping has also been accused of human rights abuses, and recently drew outrage from the international community after detaining 145 human rights lawyers and activists perceived as foes to the Communist Party in China.
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