Foreign Policy Blogs

New Polls Find Split Between Muslims Within, Without Islamic World

Over the past week, two new polls have been released which paint an interesting picture of opinions and attitudes within the Muslim World. First, a New York Times poll asked Muslims all over the world whether they felt as if they were ‘thriving’, ‘struggling’, or ‘suffering’.

Out of 14 countries (ten predominately Muslim nations and four western nations), American Muslims were among the most satisfied populations, with 41% feeling as if they were ‘thriving’ and 3% feeling as if they were ‘suffering’. That is the third highest satisfaction rate, behind only Germany and Saudi Arabia, and the second lowest dissatisfaction rate, behind Saudi Arabia. This contrasts sharply with the United Kingdom, where a mere 7% feel as if they are ‘thriving’, and 93% either ‘struggling’ or ‘suffering’.

The Second poll, released by World Public Opinion, focuses specifically on the Islamic World. It gauges the attitudes of average citizens and their opinions towards U.S. military presence and suicide attacks. The poll finds that while an overwhelming majority rejects attacks on civilians, a strong majority supports Al Qaeda’s goal of removing US troops from Muslim land; with majorities in several nations favoring attacks on US military personnel.

These findings are interesting in that they represent the clear split between Muslims living within the Muslim world, and those living in some western countries, mainly Germany and the United States. For instance, of those polled in Pakistan, only 1% believe a strong US military presence is beneficial to their lives. However, 89% of Pakistanis believe that they are either ‘struggling’ or ‘suffering’.

Even France, with high levels of Muslim dissatisfaction ranks above Morocco, Iran, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, and Pakistan. What this suggests, is that while Muslim populations fair better outside the Muslim world, there still exists high levels of animosity towards the very societies within which they thrive.

The reasons and motivations vary. Leaders inside the Islamic World often use the United States and West as a scapegoat, diverting dissatisfaction away from local regimes. The United States too shares a good deal of the blame; no one appreciates uninvited guests. Yet there exists opportunity in these polls, for if these populations, separated by some Islamic Curtain between the Muslim and Western worlds, were to reconcile, all would be better off.



Josh Hammer

Josh Hammer is an International Relations theorist, with expertise in terrorist ideology, American foreign policy, and war / conflict resolution. He currently holds a Master's of Science degree in International Politics from the University of Edinburgh, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the George Washington University. Josh's most recent work, his M.Sc. thesis, is a comparative analysis between Marxist / Leninist ideology and Osama bin Laden's global jihadi movement. He currently resides in New York.

Areas of Focus:
Terrorist Idealogy; American Foreign Policy; Conflict Resolution;