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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hearts and Minds?

Poll Finds Drop in Muslim Support for Terrorism:

Osama bin Laden's standing has dropped significantly in some key Muslim countries, while support for suicide bombings and other acts of violence has 'declined dramatically,' according to a new survey released today. In a striking finding, predominantly Muslim populations in a sampling of six North African, Middle East and Asian countries are shared to 'a considerable degree' Western nations' concerns about Islamic extremism, the survey found. Many in those Muslim nations see it as threat to their own country, the poll found. 'Most Muslim publics are expressing less support for terrorism than in the past. Confidence in Osama bin Laden has declined markedly in some countries, and fewer believe suicide bombings that target civilians are justified in the defense of Islam,' concluded the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Compared with previous surveys, the new poll also found growing majorities or pluralities of Muslims surveyed now say democracy can work in their countries and is not just a political system for the West. Support for democracy was in the 80 percent range in Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco; in Pakistan and Turkey, where significant numbers of respondents were unsure, it rated 43 percent and 48 percent respectively.
This seems very encouraging to me. (via Tsykoduk)

3 Comments:

Blogger honestpartisan said...

The poll's results seem a bit mixed to me, actually. Support for bin Laden went up in Pakistan, which is probably the most dangerous place for Bin Laden to have support, and in Jordan. The only other two Arab countries surveyed were Morocco and Lebanon, both of which are traditionally not hospitable to Sunni extremism. Lebanon has a polyglot population, and Morocco, while more homogenuous, is relatively liberal as far as that goes (for what it's worth, I've traveled in Morocco before and its possible to buy alcohol there, see women without anything on their heads, etc.)

Of the other two countries surveyed, Turkey has long had a tradition of secularism and been a NATO ally, and Indonesia's brand of Islam is pretty idiosyncratic.

Besides Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are probably the two most important countries to watch for attitudes about the U.S. and Bin Laden, Egypt because it's the most populous Arab country and a big source of Islamic extremist thought, and Saudi Arabia because of its oil reserves, strange alliance with the U.S., and keeper of holy sites at Mecca and Medina and thus a central aim of Islamic extremists.

The poll also reported that anti-Jewish sentiment was "endemic", whatever that means, which is not a good sign.

7/15/2005 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

The support for Democracy number strikes me as very interesting.

I agree with you on Pakistan, although Bin Laden's numbers only went up 'slightly' there so it doesn't seem to be a huge setback, rather just a failure to improve.

While Turkey has been traditionally secular, their most recent elections were a resounding victory for the Islamic party there.

I agree that Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi are the most important to watch, and we don't get any information on the last two.

While endemic anti-Jewish sentimate isn't good, it isn't a surprise either and there is no indication that it has grown in recent years.

7/15/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

honestpartisan's remarks seem tremendously insightive and one can see he talks out of experience. As for my experience as an Israeli citizen, I too, am very pessimistic about reform in the Arab world. Though I'm not as well informed as to this subject as the two of you seem to be, honespartisan's saying that support for Bin Laden in Pakistan and especially Jordan, a key as far as Israel goes(we've long relied on Jordan as a sometimes neutral, at others hostile but friendly as of late neighbor) is very troubling.

On the other hand, as Dave points out, if this trend continues things will eventually change. As they stand right now they can only change for the better.

7/16/2005 02:57:00 AM  

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