Friday, July 15, 2005

On second thought, maybe blowing up lots of your fellow Muslims wasn't such a great idea 

Around the world bin Laden's popularity is down, so is support for terrorism and extremism. And democratic sentiments are up, according to the latest study by the Pew Research Center:
In Morocco, 26 per cent of people have confidence in bin Laden, according to the survey, down from 49 per cent two years ago...

The al-Qaeda leader's rating also dipped sharply in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia, where only 35 per cent said they had a lot or some confidence in him, down from 58 per cent two years ago.

In Jordan, bin Laden's confidence rating rose slightly, up to 60 per cent, from 55 per cent two years ago, and 51 per cent of Pakistanis surveyed registered confidence in him, up from 45 per cent four years ago.

Support for suicide bombings is also on the wane in most Muslim-majority countries surveyed.

In Lebanon, 39 per cent said the tactic was sometimes or often justified, compared with 73 per cent in summer 2002. In Pakistan, the figure was 25 per cent versus 33 per cent. In Morocco, 13 per cent said suicide bombing was justified, compared with 40 per cent in March 2004.

The latter figure may have been influenced by continuing fallout from bombings in Casablanca on May 16, 2003 in which 45 people died.

Jordan bucked the trend again: 57 per cent of those surveyed said suicide bombing was justified, compared with 43 per cent three years ago.

Concern over Islamic extremism is also prevalent in several Muslim-majority countries, according to the survey: 73 per cent of Moroccans believe it is a threat, along with 52 per cent of Pakistanis and 47 per cent of Turks.
As the story suggest, the bloody bombing in Morocco a few years ago might account for the terror's falling popularity there. One could add that the Hariri assassination in Beirut probably has had similar impact on Lebanon. The countries that are somewhat bucking the trend - Jordan and Pakistan - seem to be ones that haven't really yet experienced the full impact of indiscriminate Al Qaeda-style terrorism (Pakistan is quite violent, but as a result of a long-running sectarian strife between Shias and Sunnis rather than international terrorism). So we might have a case here of "because it's not in my backyard I can be a courageous supporter". Should bombs start slaughtering women and children in Amman or Karachi, I would expect this jihad-by-proxy enthusiasm to wane quite quickly.
The new poll also found that growing majorities or pluralities of Muslims now say that democracy can work in their countries and is not just a Western ideology. Support for democracy was in the 80 percent range in Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco. It was selected by 43 percent in Pakistan and 48 percent in Turkey -- the largest blocks of respondents in both countries because significant numbers were unsure.
(via Instapundit and Captain's Quarters). Still, "The WaPo" could not resist with this backhander: "The poll results are a rare piece of good news for the Bush administration, which has faced difficulties seeing gains in its two top foreign policy goals - combating terrorism and promoting democracy in the Islamic world."

Hell, we all know there's plenty more to do in the war on terror and democratization, but significant strides have already been made. For a refresher just how much has been achieved you only have to compare and contrast the world on September 10, 2001 and the world today. Really, I would have thought that the poll, far from being "a rare piece of good news", is a reflection of the successes that the Bush administration has achieved so far, both in fighting terror and in promoting democracy. But that would require "The Post" to give Bush credit for something. Bad things happen, and it's the result of Bush's policies; good things happen, and it's all an accident, a stroke of good fortune from which Bush can draw a bit of temporary comfort.

And lastly, this:
One of the starkest findings was the divide in views on religion. Most of those surveyed in nine Western countries -- including the United States, Britain, Canada, France and Russia -- said they have favorable views of Muslims, although the non-Muslims surveyed were more likely to say Islam is more violent than Christianity, Judaism or Hinduism.

The Muslims surveyed had mixed views on Christians, and anti-Jewish sentiment was "endemic," the survey reported.
We'll clearly have to work a bit more on that tolerance thing.


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