Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Chasm Between Muslims & Westerners

Many people in the West see Muslims as fanatical, violent and intolerant. Muslims, tend to view the West as selfish, immoral, and greedy as well as fanatical and violent. Says a new study by the Pew Global Attitudes Project who surveyed 14,000 people in 13 countries, including the United States, five European countries, five Muslim countries, Nigeria and India during April and May.

According to the study the Muslim public feels more "embittered" toward the West and its people than vice versa. Muslim opinions about the West and its people have worsened over the past year and by overwhelming margins, Muslims blame Westerners for the strained relationship between the two sides. But there are some positive indicators as well, including the fact that in most Muslim countries surveyed showed a decline in support for terrorism.

The fact remains Muslims and Westerners blame each other for deteriorating relations. Muslim people "have an aggrieved view of the West" and are "much more likely than Americans or Western Europeans to blame Western policies for their own lack of prosperity"

The west says Muslims are held back by "government corruption, lack of education and Islamic fundamentalism" Despite the divide, attitudes are not uniformly negative.

Solid majorities in France, the US and Britain retain overall favorable opinions of Muslims, while positive views of Muslims have declined sharply in Spain (from 46% to 29%), the survey notes.

It says about eight in 10 people in both Spain and Germany associate Islam with fanaticism - a view that is less prevalent in France (50%), Britain (48%) and the US (43%).

Likewise, Muslim opinion is far from uniform, with Muslim minorities in Europe often attributing positive attributes to Westerners - including tolerance, generosity, and respect for women.

On the other hand, in Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia large majorities describe the West as "selfish", "arrogant", and "violent".

This I found very interesting:

British Muslims: 56% No
French Muslims: 46% No
Indonesia: 65% No
Egypt: 59% No
Turkey: 59% No
Jordan: 53% No

Nothing highlights the divide between Muslims and the West more clearly than their responses to the uproar this past winter over cartoon depictions of Muhammad. Most people in Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Turkey blame the controversy on Western nations disrespect for the Islamic religion. The majority of Americans and Western Europeans who have heard of the controversy say Muslims intolerance to different points of view is more to blame.

The chasm between Muslims and the West is also seen in judgments about how the other civilization treats women. Westerners by lopsided margins do not think of Muslims as "respectful of women." But half or more in four of the five Muslim countries populous surveyed say the same thing about people in the West.

Yet despite the deep divide in attitudes between Westerners and Muslims, this poll/survey also finds that the views of each toward the other are far from uniformly negative. Even in the wake of the events of the past year, solid majorities in France, Great Britain and the U.S. retain overall favorable opinions of Muslims. But positive opinions of Muslims have declined sharply in Spain over the past year (from 46% to 29%), as well as in Great Britain (from 72% to 63%)
Some other findings:

• Concerns over Islamic extremism are widely shared in Western publics and Muslim publics alike. But an exception is China, where 59% express little or no concern over Islamic extremism.

• Muslims differ over whether there is a struggle in their country between Islamic fundamentalists and groups wanting to modernize society. But solid majorities of those who perceive such a struggle side with the modernizers.

• Fully 41% of the general public in Spain says most or many Muslims in their country support Islamic extremists. But just 12% of Spain's Muslims say most or many of the country's Muslims support extremists like al Qaeda.

• Nearly four-in-ten Germans (37%), and 29% of Americans, say there is a natural conflict between being a devout Christian and living in a modern society.
The Pew Global Attitudes Project study site has a complete rundown and great graphics & charts I would post here if I had the power ;-) that I urge you all to check out!

This is not exactly an epiphany but very interesting poll into the way people think!

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