Pew: Most Muslims worried about extremism

Sept. 10, 2013 at 4:54 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Two-in-three Muslims across the world said they are somewhat or very concerned about Islamic extremists, a poll released Tuesday indicates.

The Pew Research Center said a median of 67 percent of Muslims surveyed in the Middle East, south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa said they are worried about extremists. In five countries, Pakistan, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey and Indonesia, more people said they are concerned than last year.

Despite popular assumptions in the West, a majority of the Muslim world do not support extremist and terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, the poll indicates. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they hold an unfavorable opinion of al-Qaida. The Taliban are viewed negatively by 51 percent of Muslims. In the Middle East, support for Hamas and Hezbollah is particularly low, with Hezbollah support among Egyptian Muslims dropping 38 percentage points since 2007.

Even greater than the general distaste for extremist groups, overwhelming majorities in some Muslim countries said they never support the use of violence in the name of Islam. More than three-quarters of respondents in Pakistan (89 percent), Indonesia (81 percent), Nigeria (78 percent) and Tunisia (77 percent), held that view. That isn't the case in all Muslim countries, though, particularly Palestinians, 62 percent of whom said suicide bombing is at least sometimes necessary.

Pew's poll was conducted from March 3 to April 7. In-person interviews were conducted with 8,989 Muslims in 11 countries: Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Senegal, Tunisia and Turkey. The poll's margin of error varies in each of the nations surveyed.

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