Friday, 15 July 2005

Winning hearts and minds

John Tabin:

Support, among Muslims, for suicide bombing against civilians has also faded. (Only Muslims were asked this question.) The percentage saying the practice is “never justified” jumped since March 2004 from 35 to 46 in Pakistan and from 38 to 79 in Morocco, and jumped since the summer of 2002 (the last time the question was asked in these countries) from 54 to 66 in Indonesia and from 12 to 33 in Lebanon. (The Turks held stable on the issue, with 66% saying suicide bombing is “never justified,” statistically identical to the 67% who gave that answer in March 2004.) Most interestingly, opposition to suicide bombings in Iraq specifically was higher, in several countries, than opposition to suicide bombing in general; 56% of Pakistanis and 41% of Lebanese oppose that “insurgent” tactic, along with 43% in Jordan, where only 11% oppose suicide bombing in general (and by “general,” obviously, they mean “Israel”).

Concern over the threat of Islamic extremism is widespread in several of these countries, with the percentage deeming the threat “very great” or “fairly great” at 47 in Turkey, 53 in Pakistan, 73 in Morocco, and 45 in Indonesia. Interestingly enough, respondents in different countries define “Islamic extremism” differently. In Lebanon, Jordan, and Morocco, the prevailing view is that Islamic extremism means “Using violence to get rid of non-Muslim influences in our country.” But to pluralities in Turkey and Indonesia, it means “advocating the legal imposition of strict Shari’ah on all Muslims.” The respondents in those two democracies, it seems, are less worried about their Muslim extremists killing people than they are about their getting elected — another point in democracy’s favor, I’d say.

As Mr. Tarbin says, it’s not all good news, but at least it’s trending in the right direction.

posted on July 15, 2005 3:20 PM

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