Muslims believe US seeks to undermine Islam
* Only 3 percent of Pakistanis think Al Qaeda conducted 9/11 attacks
LAHORE: An in-depth poll of major Muslim countries has found that in all of them large majorities believe that undermining Islam is a key goal of US foreign policy.
The poll, conducted in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, and Indonesia from December 2006 to February 2007 by WorldPublicOpinion.org with support from the START Consortium at the University of Maryland, also found that many Muslims approve of attacks on US troops in the Middle East.
Large majorities (average 79%) across all four countries believe the United States seeks to â€śweaken and divide the Islamic worldâ€ť, ranging from 73 percent in Indonesia and Pakistan to 92 percent in Egypt. Equally large numbers perceive that the US is trying to maintain â€ścontrol over the oil resources of the Middle Eastâ€ť (average 79%). Strong majorities (average 64%) also believe it is a US goal to â€śspread Christianity in the regionâ€ť.
â€śWhile 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,â€ť said Steven Kull, editor of WorldPublicOpinion.org.
Large majorities in all countries (average 74%) support the goal of getting the US to â€śremove its bases and military forces from all Islamic countriesâ€ť.
Substantial numbers also favour attacks on US troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the Persian Gulf. Approximately half of respondents support such attacks, while three in ten are opposed. But there is substantial variation between countries. Pakistanis are divided about attacks on the American military - many do not answer or express mixed feelings.
However, respondents roundly reject attacks on civilians. Most Indonesians (84%), Pakistanis (81%) and Egyptians (77%) say such violence cannot be justified â€śat allâ€ť.
Attitudes toward Al Qaeda are complex. On average, only three in ten view Osama Bin Laden positively. There is strong disapproval of attacks by â€śgroups that use violence against civilians, such as Al Qaedaâ€ť. Large majorities in Egypt (88%), Indonesia (65%) and Morocco (66%) agree that such groups â€śare violating the principles of Islam.â€ť Pakistanis are divided, however, with many not answering.
But there is also uncertainty about whether Al Qaeda actually conducts such attacks. Only 3 percent of Pakistanis think Al Qaeda conducted the September 11 attacks.
There is strong support for enhancing the role of Islam in all of the countries polled, through such measures as the imposition of Sharia. This does not mean that they want to isolate their societies from outside influences: Most view globalisation positively and favour democracy and freedom of religion.
Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan