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How Muslims Think

Daniel Pipes

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A just-published opinion survey of ten Muslim communities is revealing. The world should pay close attention.

To find out, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press carried out a large-scale attitudinal survey this spring. Titled "The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other," it interviewed Muslims in two batches of countries: six of them with long-standing, majority-Muslim populations (Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey) and four of them in Western Europe with new, minority Muslim populations (France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain).

The survey, which also looks at Western views of Muslims, yielded some dismaying but not altogether surprising results. Its themes can be grouped under three rubrics.

A proclivity to conspiracy theories: In not one Muslim population polled does a majority believe that Arabs carried out the 9/11 attacks on the United States. The proportions range from a mere 15 percent in Pakistan holding Arabs responsible, to 48 percent among French Muslims. Confirming recent negative trends in Turkey, the number of Turks who point the finger at Arabs has declined from 46 percent in 2002 to 16 percent today. In other words, in every one of these ten Muslim communities, a majority views 9/11 as a hoax perpetrated by the U.S. government, Israel, or some other agency.

Likewise, Muslims are widely prejudiced against Jews, ranging from 28 percent unfavorable ratings among French Muslims to 98 percent in Jordan (which, despite the monarchy's moderation, has a majority Palestinian population). Further, Muslims in certain countries (especially Egypt and Jordan) see Jews conspiratorially, as being responsible for bad relations between Muslims and Westerners.

Conspiracy theories also pertain to larger topics. Asked, "What is most responsible for Muslim nations' lack of prosperity?" between 14 percent (in Pakistan) and 43 percent (in Jordan) blame the policies of the U.S. and other Western states, as opposed to indigenous problems, such as a lack of democracy or education, or the presence of corruption or radical Islam.

Read the entire article on the Jewish World Review website (new window will open).

Posted: 10-Jul-06



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