Saturday, February 24, 2007

Large Majority Of Muslims Reject Terrorism

A large majority of Muslims across the world have been forthright in rejecting terrorism, according to a US survey that says the findings were "surprising". But only 46 percent US nationals and Europeans are ready to reject terrorism, while 24 percent of those surveyed have said that terror attacks are "sometimes justified".

In an interesting twist to what has been touted as "a clash of civilizations", spurred by 9/11, even supporters of international mastermind Osama bin Laden, "most overwhelmingly approved of specific American actions in their own countries".

Eighty-six percent Pakistanis, 81 percent Bangladeshis and 74 percent Indonesians said they rejected terrorism. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nigeria were the Muslim nations where 20 surveys have been conducted over the last two years by the University of Maryland that covered the US and Europe.

The Daily Times did not indicate which of the European nations were surveyed. Entitled 'Terror Free Tomorrow', the survey says a half of the Westerners associated Islam and Muslims with terrorism.

For most Muslims surveyed, their professed support of terrorism/Bin Laden could be more accurately characterised as a kind of "protest vote" against current US foreign policies, not as a deeply held religious conviction or even an inherently anti-American or anti-Western view.

According to the survey, "In truth, the common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews. Whether recruits to violent causes join gangs in Los Angeles or terrorist cells in Lahore, the enemy is the violence they exalt. America's goal, in partnership with Muslim public opinion, should be to defeat terrorists by isolating them from their own societies.

"The most effective policies to achieve that goal are the ones that build on our common humanity. And we can start by recognising that Muslims throughout the world want peace as much as Americans do."

According to the Christian Science Monitor, public opinion surveys in the US and Europe show that nearly half of Westerners associate Islam with violence and Muslims with terrorism.

Given the many radicals who commit violence in the name of Islam around the world, that's an understandable polling result. But these stereotypes, affirmed by simplistic media coverage and many radicals themselves, are not supported by the facts - and they are detrimental to the 'war on terror'.

"When the West wrongly attributes radical views to all of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, it perpetuates a myth that has the very real effect of marginalising critical allies in the 'war on terror'", says the Christian Science Monitor.

Indeed, the far-too-frequent stereotyping of Muslims serves only to reinforce the radical appeal of the small minority of Muslims who peddle hatred of the West and others as authentic religious practice, it says. (IBNLive)

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