What the polls says?
Muslims Believe US Seeks to Undermine Islam
Majorities Want US Forces Out of Islamic Countries,
And Approve of Attacks on US Troops
Large Majorities Agree With Many Goals of Al Qaeda, But Oppose Attacks on
Most Support Enhancing Role of Islam in Their Society,But Also Favor
Globalization and Democracy
An in-depth poll of four major Muslim countries has found that in all of them
large majorities believe that undermining Islam is a key goal of US foreign
policy. Most want US military forces out of the Middle East and many approve of
attacks on US troops there.
Islamic madrassa student Muhammad Faiza Rehman, 8, at the Lal Mosque April 2,
2007, in Islamabad , Pakistan . (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Most respondents have mixed feelings about al Qaeda. Large majorities agree with
many of its goals, but believe that terrorist attacks on civilians are contrary
There is strong support for enhancing the role of Islam in all of the countries
polled, through such measures as the imposition of Sharia (Islamic law). This
does not mean that they want to isolate their societies from outside influences:
Most view globalization positively and favor democracy and freedom of religion.
These findings are from surveys in Egypt , Morocco , Pakistan , and Indonesia
conducted from December 2006 to February, 2007 by
with support from the START Consortium at the University of Maryland .
Large majorities across all four countries believe the United States seeks to
“weaken and divide the Islamic world.” On average 79 percent say they perceive
this as a US goal, ranging from 73 percent in Indonesia and Pakistan to 92
percent in Egypt . Equally large numbers perceive that the United States is
trying to maintain “control over the oil resources of the Middle East ” (average
79%). Strong majorities (average 64%) even believe it is a US goal to “spread
Christianity in the region.”
“While US leaders may frame the conflict as a war on terrorism, people in the
Islamic world clearly perceive the US as being at war with Islam,” said Steven
Kull, editor of
Consistent with this concern, large majorities in all countries (average 74%)
support the goal of getting the United States to “remove its bases and military
forces from all Islamic countries,” ranging from 64 percent in Indonesia to 92
percent in Egypt .
Substantial numbers also favor attacks on US troops in Iraq , Afghanistan , and
in the Persian Gulf . Across the four countries polled approximately half
support such attacks in each location, while three in ten are opposed. But there
is substantial variation between countries: Support is strongest in Egypt ,
where at least eight in ten approve of attacking US troops in the region. A
majority of Moroccans also support targeting US forces, whether stationed in the
Persian Gulf (52%) or fighting in Iraq (68%). Pakistanis are divided about
attacks on the Amer ican military—many do not answer or express mixed
feelings—while Indonesians oppose them.
However, respondents roundly reject attacks on civilians. Asked about
politically- motivated attacks on civilians, such as bombings or assassinations,
majorities in all countries—usually overwhelming majorities—take the strongest
position offered by saying such violence cannot be justified at all. More than
three out of four Indonesians (84%), Pakistanis (81%), and Egyptians (77%) take
this position, as well as 57 percent of Moroccans (an additional 19 percent of
Moroccans say such attacks can only be “weakly justified”).
Attitudes toward Al Qaeda are complex. On average, only three in ten view Osama
bin Laden positively. Many respondents express mixed feelings about bin Laden
and his followers and many others decline to answer.
There is strong disapproval of attacks by “groups that use violence against
civilians, such as al Qaeda.” Large majorities in Egypt (88%), Indonesia (65%)
and Morocco (66%) agree that such groups “are violating the principles of
Islam.” Pakistanis are divided, however, with many not answering.
But there is also uncertainty about whether al Qaeda actually conducts such
attacks. On average less than one in four believes al Qaeda was responsible for
September 11th attacks. Pakistanis are the most skeptical—only 3 percent think
al Qaeda did it. There is no consensus about who is responsible for the attacks
on New York and Washington ; the most common answer is “don’t know.”
Most significantly, large majorities approve of many of al Qaeda’s principal
goals. Large majorities in all countries (average 70 percent or higher) support
such goals as: “stand up to Amer icans and affirm the dignity of the Islamic
people,” “push the US to remove its bases and its military forces from all
Islamic countries,” and “pressure the United States to not favor Israel.”
Equally large majorities agree with goals that involve expanding the role of
Islam in their society. On average, about three out of four agree with seeking
to “require Islamic countries to impose a strict application of sharia,” and to
“keep Western values out of Islamic countries.” Two-thirds would even like to
“unify all Islamic counties into a single Islamic state or caliphate.”
But this does not appear to mean that the publics in these Muslim countries want
to isolate themselves from the larger world. Asked how they feel about “the
world becoming more connected through greater economic trade and faster
communication,” majorities in all countries say it is a good thing (average
75%). While wary of Western values, overall 67 percent agree that “a democratic
political system” is a good way to govern their country and 82 percent agree
that in their country “people of any religion should be free to worship
according to their own beliefs.”
The surveys were conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007 using
in-home interviews. In Morocco (1,000 interviews), Indonesia (1,141 interviews),
and Pakistan (1,243 interviews) national probability samples were conducted
covering both urban and rural areas. However, Pakistani findings reported here
are based only upon urban respondents (611 interviews); rural respondents were
unfamiliar with many of the issues in the survey. In Egypt , the sample (1,000
interviews) was an urban sample drawn probabilistically from seven governorates.
Sample sizes of 1,000 – 1,141 have confidence intervals of +/- 3 percentage
points; a sample size of 611 has a confidence interval of +/-4 percentage
Poll Finds Almost 90% of US Troops Think Iraq War
is Retaliation for 9/11
"A LeMoyne College/Zogby International poll shows that high numbers of troops
serving in Iraq believe that the war is a response to the now discredited belief
that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 or had substantial links to al Qaeda."
World View of US Role Goes From Bad to Worse
The US military presence in the Middle East is exceedingly unpopular. In 23 of
25 countries the most common view is that it “provokes more conflict than it
prevents.” While in only one country ( Nigeria ) is the most common view that
the US presence is stabilizing.
licopinion. org/pi... nt=306&lb=btis
Survey Finds Suspicion of US in Islamic World
An average of more than 75 percent of
respondents across the four countries – Egypt, Morocco, and the world's two most
populous Muslim nations, Indonesia and Pakistan – said they believed that
dividing and weakening the Islamic world and maintaining control over Middle
East oil were key goals of U.S. foreign policy,
according to the survey by the University of Maryland (UM) and
And an average of two out of three respondents
named "expand[ing] the geographic borders of Israel" as a third major U.S.
policy objective in the region.
contrast, less than one in four agreed that Washington wanted to create "an
independent and economically viable Palestinian state," despite Bush's explicit
endorsement of that goal since before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq .
Sixty-four percent of respondents in
Indonesia , Pakistan , and Morocco said another
U.S. goal was to "spread Christianity in the region."
The question was not asked in Egypt .
"While U.S. leaders may frame the conflict as a war on terrorism, people in the
Islamic world clearly perceive the U.S. as being at war with Islam,"
said WorldPublicOpinion. org editor Steven Kull,
who also directs the UM Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA).
"There's a feeling of being under siege."
Strong majorities in Pakistan (68 percent), Morocco (72 percent), and Egypt (86
percent) chose either "weakening and dividing
the Islamic religion and its people" or "achieving
political and military domination to control Middle East resources."
An average of only 13 percent of respondents in the same three countries said
the primary U.S. goal was to "protect itself from terrorist attacks."
As for attitudes about al-Qaeda itself, an average of 15 percent of respondents
said they supported the group's attacks on U.S. targets; while 23 percent said
they oppose such attacks but share the group's attitudes toward the United
States . Another 26 percent said they oppose both its attacks and its attitudes
towards the U.S. , while 37 percent (including two-thirds of all Pakistanis)
declined to answer. Support for al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. targets was highest in
Egypt (25 percent) and Indonesia (15 percent).
But respondents made a clear distinction between what kinds of attacks they
considered permissible. While an average of
about half of all respondents (and much higher percentages in the two Arab
states) said they either "strongly" or "somewhat" approved of attacks against
U.S. soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere in the region,
only a tiny fraction – well under 10 percent – said they approved of attacks
against civilians, either in the region or in the United States.
two percent of Pakistanis believed that al-Qaeda was responsible for the
attacks, compared to 34 percent who said they believed the U.S. government or
Israel was behind them.
Christine Fair, a South Asia specialist at the U.S. Institute of Peace,
suggested that that result may reflect confusion about the
group's leaders who "20 years ago were 'freedom
fighters,' and now they're 'terrorists. ' Folks just don't believe al-Qaeda did
Full survey @
licopinion. org/pipa/ pdf/apr07/ START_Apr07_ rpt.pdf