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Omar Sacirbey
Religion News Service

George Bush and Osama bin Laden are both losing the battle for Muslim hearts and minds, according to a new report.
The Pew Global Attitudes Project, a 47-nation survey, found that rising prosperity in the Islamic world has helped slash support for terrorism and bin Laden, but has not changed minds about the U.S., which most Muslims still view as a military threat.
Majorities in 15 of 16 Muslim countries surveyed said suicide bombings can be rarely or never justified, the report said. The Palestinian territories were the exception, where 70 percent of respondents said suicide bombing is sometimes or often justified.
The percentage of Muslims saying that suicide bombing is justified fell sharply since 2002 in five of eight countries where the trend could be measured. In Pakistan, for example, 9 percent of Muslims said suicide bombings to defend Islam are often or sometimes justified, compared with 33 percent in 2002.
Bin Laden’s popularity also fell. Between 2003 and 2007 in Jordan, support for the al-Qaida leader declined from 56 percent to 20 percent.
In Lebanon, it decreased from 20 percent to 1 percent.
But America’s image remained “abysmal” in the Muslim world, the report said, with solid majorities in every country saying they worried that the U.S. is a military threat.
The report also found mixed support for Hezbollah and Hamas, and growing worries about the spread of violence between Shiites and Sunnis.

Copyright 2007 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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