- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 24, 2006

A new poll found Muslims and Westerners agree that relations between them are bad and blame each other for it.

The Pew Center poll released this week showed large numbers of Muslims said Westerners are selfish and arrogant, while most Westerners said Muslims are fanatical and violent.

In the poll, which was conducted in 13 countries, Muslims were more critical of the West than the other way around.

“As far as policy implications, we are clearly not doing enough to engage in the war of ideas. People abroad watch TV and think we all run around with bare midriffs. I know I don’t do that,” said former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, who urged more interaction with Muslim communities.

According to the poll, 65 percent in Indonesia, 59 percent in Egypt and Turkey, and 53 percent in Jordan say Arabs did not carry out the September 11 attacks. Among European Muslims, 56 percent in Britain, 46 percent in France, and 44 percent in Germany held the opinion.

“This is alarming. I think emotions sometimes get in the way of rationality,” said John C. Danforth, former senator and U.N. ambassador.

Mrs. Albright and Mr. Danforth discussed the poll findings at a breakfast meeting organized by Christian Science Monitor on Thursday.

Mrs. Albright said she was shocked that 61 percent in Nigeria said they had confidence in Osama bin Laden and 46 percent said they think suicide bombing is justified.

“We don’t pay attention to Africa. And if this doesn’t change, we will have a lot of serious problems to deal with,” she said, noting a recent Islamist uprising in Somalia.

Despite discord with the West, Muslim support for suicide bombing declined, especially in Jordan — dropping from 57 percent to 29 percent — after bombings in three hotels killed 60 persons in Amman in November.

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