Thursday, July 14, 2005

Global Attitudes

Andrew Sullivan sees positive trends in the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which reports lowered support for terrorism (specifically, suicide bombings) in six selected Muslim countries. The six countries surveyed were Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, and Morocco. If we break it down to individual countries, however, I am not as sanguine as Andrew. Those surveyed were asked if violence against civilian targets is justified. In Jordan, 57% said it was often/sometimes justified, which is an increase from the last Pew survey, in summer 2002, when it was 43%. Perhaps this has something to do with the Palestinian intifada, since a majority of the Jordanian population is Palestinian in ethnic origin. This summer, 11% in Jordan said it was never justified, as opposed to 26% in summer 2002 - so the attitudes have worsened there. There has been a decrease in support for terrorism in the other countries, specifically Lebanon (from a height of 73% to a low now of 39%) - presumably affected by disapproval at the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri. Support in Morocco went down from 40% to 13%. Majorities in Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey saw Islamic extremism as a threat to their countries.

The most depressing statistics were from the questions about how people viewed those of other religious groups, specifically Jews. See the table below.

You'll notice that in all non-Muslim countries a majority has a favorable view of Jews - ranging from a low of 54% in Russia to a high of 85% in the Netherlands. If we look at the Muslim countries, opinions are uniformly negative, ranging from a high of 18% in Turkey having a favorable view of Jews to a low of 0% in Lebanon and Jordan. Even Turkey and Morocco, which have pretty good diplomatic relations with Israel, have a preponderance of negative views of Jews. I would guess that these negative opinions have been formed both by the Arab-Israeli conflict and by the spread of vile anti-semitic slanders in Muslim countries. Opinions about Christians in Muslim countries are mixed - 91% in Lebanon have a favorable view of Christians, and views are positive in Indonesia and Jordan (58% favorable). In Turkey, Pakistan, and Morocco lopsided majorities disapprove of Christians.

Views of Muslims in non-Muslim countries are much more positive, in contrast - the lowest favorable percentages are 40% in Germany, 45% in the Netherlands, 46% in Spain and Poland. In the U.S., 57% have a favorable view, 22% an unfavorable one. Thus, even after September 11, 2001, most Americans do not harbor anti-Muslim attitudes, showing that there is a reservoir of goodwill in this country.


  1. I strongly doubt the values for France, where anti-religious in general, antisemitic and anti-islamic feelings are quite strong.

    As to explain why Christians scored so well in Lebanon, it is NOT a Muslim country, but about half of the population is Christian and the religions are equal by law. The fact that they still are so anti-Jewish is explained by the Israeli invasions during the Lebanon war.

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  3. Jewropean, I removed your second posting because it was a copy of the first.

    I don't live in France, so it's hard for me to assess the accuracy of these figures. And you're probably right about why Lebanese have such a poor opinion of Jews - but I wish that there was a bit more separation between their opinions of Jews and Israelis.