February 25, 2009

Poll of Muslim World Gives Few Reasons for Hope

A new poll from World Public Opinion pretty much confirms everything we thought we knew about the Muslim world: that while not directly supporting al Qaeda, large majorities of Muslims around the world support many of al Qaeda's goals, hate the US, are clamoring to replace secular repression with religious repression, are paranoid conspiracy theorists, and have no problem with killing US soldiers.

The full report is here.

The good news, of course is that large majorities in Muslim countries reject killing American civilians. But that's about where the good news begins and ends.

The worst news? Support by Muslims for attacks against American civilians has actually increased over the past two years.


This is true even in so-called "moderate" countries, like Indonesia where 5% of the population think civilians are legitimate targets for attack and another 8% have mixed feelings about attacking civilians. What's 5% of 237 million people? That's over 10 million terror supporters living in Indonesia alone, with another 19 million of their neighbors who might not feel inclined to turn them in should they ever decide to go on a killing spree.

A related question showed -- with the exception of those asked in Egypt -- that support for killing American civilians working in Muslims countries is even greater than support for killing American civilians in the US. A full 18% of Palestinians either directly support killing Americans living in the Middle East or had mixed feelings about the prospect.

Hooray two-state solution!

That number was 22% amongst our NATO "allies" in Turkey. I wonder if the Obama administration will continue with the suicidal US foreign policy goal of pushing for Turkey's admission into the EU?

Making the case for admission into the EU even more problematic is that:

Attacks on civilians in Europe are not viewed differently from attacks on civilians in the US. Egyptians, Indonesians and Pakistanis all rejected such attacks by majorities: 85 percent in Egypt, 72 percent in Indonesia, and 51 percent in Pakistan.
Despite the spin, this means that 49% of Pakistanis don't reject the notion that European civilians are fair game.

49% of 173 million people!

The one bright spot in this section is that those who see attacking civilians as ineffective (not wrong, just tactically ineffective) seems to be on the rise.

Let's move on to the next graphic of hope-n-change.


Though, to be honest, wanting the US out of the Middle East might be confluent with al Qaeda's short term goal, it does not mean that Muslims support removing US from Muslim countries for the same reason. Muslims in these countries know its an al Qaeda goal, but it's probably likely that the reason they want the US out has to do with nationalistic and anti-imperialist sentiments.

The data shows that only tiny minorities in most countries surveyed want a long-term US presence in the Persian Gulf.

But how about al Qaeda's long-term goals?

The long-term goal for Islamist governance held out by al Qaeda’s ideology is “to unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate.” Seventy percent of Egyptians, 69 percent of Pakistanis, but only 35 percent of Indonesians said they agreed with this goal.
Another long-term goal of al Qaeda is the institution of strict sharia law.

How about shariah --- not liberal versions of it which might do things like, I dunno, not impose the death penalty on apostates, but instead maybe fine them or deny recognition for converts like they do in Indonesia -- but "strict shariah"?


Okay, so let's ask a more direct question. What do you think of al Qaeda attacks against Americans?


According to the authors, this is supposed to make me feel better because only 21 million Indonesians, rather than all 235 million of them -- are rooting on al Qaeda to attack us.

The more I scroll through the data, the worse it gets. How about killing American troops in Iraq and around the Middle East? Yes we can!

83% of Egyptians are cool with killing American troops in Iraq? WTF kind of propaganda are they getting fed?


87% or Palestinians have no problem with, say, the al Qaeda attack against the USS Cole. Hey, let's give these guys $900 million!


61% of Muslims in "moderate" Morocco support Taliban attacks against US troops!



Deep breath. On to the paranoia.

The vast majority of Muslims think the long-term goal of the United States is to divide and conquer the Ummah. This is a frame of mind no different than al Qaeda, which consistently conveys a message which presents the US out to weaken the Muslim world and paints terrorism as a defensive tactic.


In no country surveyed do majorities perceive US foreign policy as one trying to prevent the rise of extremist groups like the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, or Jemaah Islamiyah.


Instead, majorities saw other US goals as spreading Christianity (71% in Pakistan) and controlling oil (82% in Morocco).

It's all very depressing. I'm not going to end on a high note. Instead, I'll leave with what may ultimately be the least meaningful and yet most depressing graphic from the full report.

Read it and be afraid dear readers. Be very afraid.


Parting shot: If this is what Muslims in majority Muslim countries think, I can't help but wonder what Muslim immigrants, their children, and converts in the West think?

Because it's one thing for 14% of Indonesians in Southeast Asia to support al Qaeda, and it's another thing altogether for 9% of Indonesians in, say, California to hold similar views.

*Oh my gawd we are so screwed!

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:31 PM | Comments |