Poll: Islam Religion of Peace and Democracy

Robin Wright reports that a majority of Muslims support democracy and oppose terrorism in a new Pew survey.

Poll Finds Drop in Muslim Support for Terrorism (WaPo)

Osama bin Laden’s standing has dropped significantly in some key Muslim countries, while support for suicide bombings and other acts of violence has “declined dramatically,” according to a new survey released today. In a striking finding, predominantly Muslim populations in a sampling of six North African, Middle East and Asian countries also shared to “a considerable degree” Western nations’ concerns about Islamic extremism, the survey found. Many in those Muslim nations see it as threat to their own country, the poll found.

“Most Muslim publics are expressing less support for terrorism than in the past. Confidence in Osama bin Laden has declined markedly in some countries, and fewer believe suicide bombings that target civilians are justified in the defense of Islam,” concluded the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Compared with previous surveys, the new poll also found growing majorities or pluralities of Muslims surveyed now say democracy can work in their countries and is not just a political system for the West. Support for democracy was in the 80 percent range in Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco; in Pakistan and Turkey, where significant numbers of respondents were unsure, it rated 43 percent and 48 percent respectively.

“They are not just paying lip service. They are saying they specifically want a fair judiciary, freedom of expression and more than one party to participate in elections. It wasn’t just a vague concept,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center and director of the project. “U.S. and Western ideas about democracy have been globalized and are in the Muslim world.”

Considering that they are counter to the government policy in many of their host countries–and that people under despotic regimes tend to be reluctant to express opinions contrary to government policy–the results are all the more remarkable.

The real question, though, is what are Muslims willing to do to advance these preferences. Continuing to shelter and honor the terrorists certainly will not achieve them. Nor will making excuses for murder. Nor will saying, “We abhor violence” followed by a “but.”

FILED UNDER: Democracy, Middle East, Public Opinion Polls, Religion, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    Your last part doesn’t make much sense as stated. Even if, say, 75% of Muslims in a given country loathe terrorists, that leaves 25% to shelter & honor them, which is plenty–I would guess 1% would be plenty. Please elucidate?

  2. Anderson,

    They could begin by dropping a dime on the radicals if they’re in this country or one that’s fighting for its life — say, Iraq. Or they could band together and kill the bastards if they’re living in the likes of, say, Somalia. We need something that demonstrates sincerity.

  3. I should add: nothing less than absolute scorn from “moderate” Muslims — as we now view Nazis or the KKK — will suffice.

  4. ICallMasICM says:

    In the same poll support for psychotic terrorist mass murder of innocent civilians was down to just over 50% in some countries.

  5. legion says:

    Well, I’m sure the overwhelming majority of blacks were against being shat upon on a daily basis by the old apartheid gov’t of South Africa, but it still took decades to get rid of those racist bastards… The people themselves were the ones being directly oppressed, murdered, etc., and there was still no bloody uprising.

    I don’t know the psychological background for it, but it seems there’s not much precedent for generally peacable people getting up in arms to kick out violently oppressive governments. I don’t see any reason to expect that to be different in Muslim nations…