Tuesday, February 20, 2007

War On Terror Radicalises Muslims Around The Globe

Anti-Americanism Soars In WoT Ally Nations

You might expect that anti-Americanism would actually be lower in Muslim countries supposedly allied with the United States in the War on Terror. You'd be wrong.

What is starkly apparent from the following story is that hatred and dismay directed at the US has increased dramatically during the course of the Iraq War, and America's aggressive pursuit and violence directed towards Muslims in dozens of countries around the world, through CIA renditions and War on Terror related arrests and harrassments.

Whatever the reasons behind the rise in anti-American sentiment, the support for terrorism and violence is shocking. Though there is also good news to found in the survey numbers, particularly in the rise of American favouritism in Iran, and the worldwide distrust of Muslims towards Sharia law being imposed on their societies.

A hell of a lot of cliches pumped out by Western media and politicians towards Muslims must also now be retired and cast from the public debate. It is clear that the vast majority of Muslims do not oppose the "values" of the West, but they rarely support acts of aggression and violence by governments in the West.

Definitely one of the most important, and informative, surveys of the Muslim world to have been released during the course of the 'War on Terror'.

From the London Times :

The War on Terror has radicalised Muslims around the world to unprecedented levels of anti-American feeling, according to the largest survey of Muslims ever to be conducted.

Seven per cent believe that the events of 9/11 were “completely justified”. In Saudi Arabia, 79 per cent had an “unfavourable view” of the US.

Gallup’s Centre for Muslim Studies in New York carried out surveys of 10,000 Muslims in ten predominantly Muslim countries. One finding was that the wealthier and better-educated the Muslim was, the more likely he was to be radicalised.

The surveys were carried out in 2005 and 2006. Along with an earlier Gallup survey in nine other countries in 2001, they represent the views of more than 90 per cent of the world’s Muslims. A further 1,500 Muslims in London, Paris and Berlin are involved in a separate poll to be published in April.

The findings come in a climate of growing mistrust between Islam and the West. Another recent survey in the US found that 39 per cent of Americans felt some prejudice towards Muslims.

The Gallup findings indicate that, in terms of spiritual values and the emphasis on the family and the future, Americans have more in common with Muslims than they do with their Western counterparts in Europe.

A large number of Muslims supported the Western ideal of democratic government. Fifty per cent of radicals supported democracy, compared with 35 per cent of moderates.

Religion was found to have little to do with radicalisation or antipathy towards Western culture. Muslims were condemnatory of promiscuity and a sense of moral decay. What they admired most was liberty, its democratic system, technology and freedom of speech.

While there was widespread support for Sharia, or Islamic law, only a minority wanted religious leaders to be making laws. Most women in the predominantly Muslim countries believed that Sharia should be the source of a nation’s laws, but they strongly believed in equal rights for women.

This finding indicates the complexity of the struggle ahead for Western understanding. Few Western commentators can see how women could embrace the veil, Sharia and equal rights at the same time.

Researchers set out to examine the truth behind the stock response in the West to the question of when it will know it is winning the war on terror. Foreign policy experts tend to believe that victory will come when the Islamic world rejects radicalism. “Every politician has a theory: radicals are religious fundamentalists; they are poor; they are full of hopeless-ness and hate. But those theories are wrong,” the researchers reported.

“We find that Muslim radicals have more in common with their moderate brethren than is often assumed. If the West wants to reach the extremists, and empower the moderate majority, it must first recognise who it’s up against.”

Gallup says that because terrorists often hijack Islamic precepts for their own ends, pundits and politicians in the West sometimes portray Islam as a religion of terrorism.

“They often charge that religious fervour triggers radical and violent views,” said John Esposito, a religion professor, and Dalia Mogahed, Gallup’s Muslim studies director, in one analysis. “But the data say otherwise. There is no significant difference in religiosity between moderates and radicals. In fact, radicals are no more likely to attend religious services regularly than are moderates.”

They continue: “It’s no secret that many in the Muslim world suffer from crippling poverty and lack of education. But are radicals any poorer than their fellow Muslims? We found the opposite: there is indeed a key difference between radicals and moderates when it comes to income and education, but it is the radicals who earn more and stay in school longer.”

Genieve Abdo, a senior Gallup analyst and author of Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11, said that the findings of a high level of religious belief among both moderate and radical Muslims had “huge implications” for Western governments.

Percentage with unfavourable view of US in 2005 (all increased since 9/11 except where indicated:


Saudi Arabia






Iran (down from 63 in 2001)


Pakistan (down from 69 in 2001)