Global Poll Shows Muslims Leery of US and Obama
WASHINGTON — Muslims around the globe remain uneasy about the U.S.
and are increasingly disenchanted with President Barack Obama,
according to a poll that suggests his drive to improve relations with
the Muslim world has had little impact.
Even so, the U.S. image
is holding strong in many other countries and continues to be far
better than it was during much of George W. Bush's presidency,
according to the survey.
There is one glaring exception: Mexico,
where 62 percent expressed favorable views of the U.S. just days before
an Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigrants was signed in April,
but only 44 percent did so afterward.
The findings by the Pew
Global Attitudes Project, conducted in April and May in the United
States and 21 other countries by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center,
come amid a global economic downturn and U.S. wars in Afghanistan and
Iraq. The poll has been measuring the views of people around the world
Among the seven countries surveyed with substantial
Muslim populations, the U.S. was seen favorably by just 17 percent in
Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan and 21 percent in Jordan. The U.S.'s
positive rating was 52 percent in Lebanon, 59 percent in Indonesia and
81 percent in Nigeria, where Muslims comprise about half the population.
of those figures was an improvement from last year. There were slight
dips in Jordan and in Indonesia, where Obama spent several years
growing up. Egypt saw a 10-point drop, even though Obama gave a widely
promoted June 2009 speech in Cairo aimed at reaching out to the Muslim
In all seven of those countries, the percentage of Muslims
expressing confidence in Obama has also dropped since last year. Only
in Nigeria and Indonesia do majorities of Muslims voice confidence in
him; in Obama's worst showing, just 8 percent in Pakistan do.
survey found that majorities of the public in Turkey, Jordan, Egypt,
Indonesia, Lebanon and Pakistan say the U.S. could someday be a
military threat to their country.
"You get a sense of Muslim
disappointment with Barack Obama," said Andy Kohut, the Pew president,
who attributed it to discontent with U.S. policy on the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to expectations raised by Obama's
The surveys were taken before Israel's deadly May
31 clash with a flotilla of boats trying to break the blockade of
Hamas-controlled Gaza, which sparked widespread condemnation of Israel.
In the rest of the world, the U.S. and Obama generally fare better.
6 in 10 in Germany and Spain who view the U.S. favorably has doubled
from the lows reached under Bush. The U.S. image is also significantly
better than it was under Bush in Russia, China, France, Argentina,
South Korea and Japan. Obama is broadly supported, but the percentages
expressing confidence in him have ebbed in 14 countries polled.
only five countries do majorities think the U.S. considers other
nations when setting its foreign policy. Support for U.S.
anti-terrorism efforts and Obama's handling of economic problems is
generally strong, but there is significant opposition to American
involvement in Afghanistan and little faith that a stable government
will emerge in Iraq.
The poll also found that:
seven Muslim nations polled, the portion of Muslims saying suicide
attacks are sometimes justified ranged from 39 percent in Lebanon to 5
percent in Turkey. Nowhere did Muslims give majority support to Osama
bin Laden or his al-Qaida terrorist group.
_In every nation but
Poland, China and Brazil, most are unhappy with how things are going in
their country, though dissatisfaction has grown in only three countries
in the past year. Attitudes about each country's economic situation are
similarly negative, though a bit brighter than a year ago.
in 10 Chinese are happy with their country's economy, by far the
highest mark of any nation polled. China is seen more positively than
negatively in 15 countries, and in eight countries China is viewed as
the world's leading economic power — up from two who said so last year.
in Pakistan does a majority favor Iran having nuclear weapons. In most
countries, economic sanctions against Iran's nuclear program get higher
support than military action. But significant numbers are prepared for
a showdown: In 16 countries, more people who oppose Iran's nuclear
program consider stopping Tehran from getting such weapons more
important than avoiding a military conflict.
_More people in
every country except Egypt and Jordan said the environment should be a
priority, even at the cost of economic growth and jobs. But only in
nine countries are half or more willing to pay higher prices to address
_Three-fourths of Brazilians say their team will
win this year's World Cup soccer tournament, easily the most confident
showing of the countries polled. Just 13 percent of Americans picked
The Pew Global Attitudes Project was conducted by the
Pew Research Center in 22 countries from April 7 through May 8, though
the exact dates varied by country. Interviews were mostly conducted
face-to-face, though telephone interviews were used in the U.S.,
Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Japan.
Sample sizes ranged
from 700 people in Japan to 3,262 in China. National samples were used
in all countries except China, India and Pakistan, where those
interviewed were disproportionately urban. The margin of sampling error
ranged from plus or minus 2.5 percentage points in China to 5 points in
The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: http://www.people-press.org