Pew: Muslims And Westerners Don't Like Each Other Much

Pew has a fascinating and grim new poll out on how Muslims and Westerners view each other. The poll concludes that "Muslim and Western publics continue to see relations between them as generally bad, with both sides holding negative stereotypes of the other." Anti-Semitism is also prevalent, as citizens of Muslim countries have particularly negative views of Jews, whose favorable ratings remain in the single digits among all the countries surveyed. September 11 denialism is also very prevalent in Muslim countries, with majorities in all the countries surveyed denying that Arabs were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. That might explain a finding from a Zogby poll a few weeks ago that showed widespread disapproval of the U.S. killing Osama bin Laden -- although that poll shares only a few of the same countries surveyed with this one.

Here's the Pew chart on stereotypes Muslims and Westerners hold of each other -- each side agrees that the other is "fanatical."

Pew stereotypes.png

There's also significant disagreement on the level of responsibility Muslims and Americans place on U.S. and Western policies for misery in Muslim countries, with 54 percent of Muslims blaming U.S. and Western policies for a lack of prosperity while only 14 percent of Westerners say the same. Interestingly enough, on the other issues -- lack of democracy, lack of education, and government corruption, Muslim and Western views converge. They diverge again when asked about the role of Islamic fundamentalism, with 32 percent of Westerners blaming it for lack of prosperity and only 12 percent of Muslims doing so. Pew doesn't have the country breakdown, but it would be interesting to see where this sentiment is most prevalent -- particularly in countries like Egypt where there's a direct connection between U.S. policy and the absence of democratic governments. 

That doesn't mean that Muslims aren't worried about Islamic extremism. In fact, this is another point of convergence:

islamic extremism.png

Another one of the survey's findings is that in many Muslim countries, identification with religion is stronger than identification with the state as compared to the West. The exception? The United States, where 46 percent of Christians consider themselves Christian "first." That's tied with Egypt and reflects greater identification with religion than Muslims in Palestine, Indonesia, and Lebanon.

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