the end of the world as we know it 7.14.2005

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 also 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.

"They are not just paying lip service. They are saying they specifically want a fair judiciary, freedom of expression and more than one party to participate in elections. It wasn't just a vague concept," said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center and director of the project. "U.S. and Western ideas about democracy have been globalized and are in the Muslim world."

At the same time, however, most Muslims surveyed believe Islam is playing an increasing role in politics, which they view as a positive shift in response to economic problems, growing immorality and concern about Western influence. Jordan was the only exception to the trend.

The survey results indicate that growing numbers of Muslims differentiate between the peaceful influence of Islamic values in politics and the use of religion to justify attacks. "The people who see Islam playing an important role in political life are the ones most worried about extremism," Kohut said in an interview.

posted by William Woody at 3:50 PM

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