Beliefnet
February 27, 2002

Large numbers of residents in Muslim countries believe Arabs were not behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, and some believe forces within the United States or Israel likely were, a new survey finds.

The Gallup survey of residents in nine heavily Muslim countries found a majority of respondents in all the countries except one--Kuwait--condemned the Sept. 11 attacks as morally unjustifiable.

But "sizeable minorities" had such a strong distrust of America that they did not believe its claims about who was responsible, a statement by Gallup said.

While many respondents saw things to admire or envy in American accomplishments and freedoms, large numbers said they believed the United States had little interest in helping them or their countries, and saw America's overall Western culture as decadent, immoral and irreligious.

Gallup conducted face-to-face surveys in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan and Morocco in December and January.

"There's been much speculation about what these people think and feel and this is an attempt to do that scientifically," said Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup poll.

In all, Gallup surveyed 9,924 people, with the largest number, 2,043, being interviewed in Pakistan, and the smallest being questioned in Saudi Arabia, where 754 were interviewed. Newport said local polling firms were used and did not identify the survey as sponsored by a Western organization.

Generally, the polling organization did not combine the data into a single, nine-nation result. That would have required weighting the data to reflect the size of each country's population, and Indonesia and Pakistan, with their big populations, could have thrown off the results.

About half of respondents of the entire sample viewed the United States and Great Britain "very" or "somewhat" unfavorably, though their view of a third Western country, France, was more positive, Gallup's summary of the survey said.

The United States' largest unfavorable rating came from Pakistan, where 68 percent viewed the United States negatively. Lebanon had the highest number of respondents who viewed the United States favorably, with 41 percent of 1,010 respondents saying they viewed America in a positive light.

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair also were highly unpopular among those surveyed.

The largest percentages of positive responses to Bush were found in Turkey, where 21 percent of 1,019 respondents said they liked him "very much" or "a fair amount." In Morocco, where Bush appeared most unpopular, 71 percent of 1,000 respondents did not like him "much" or "at all."

Blair, whose numbers were slightly more negative than Bush's, was most liked in Lebanon (15 percent) and most disliked in Kuwait (68 percent). The surveys have margins of error ranging from plus or minus 2 percentage points in the larger samples to plus or minus 4 percentage points in the smaller samples.

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