- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Muslims around the world increasingly reject suicide bombings and other violence against civilians by those purporting to defend Islam, according to an international poll released yesterday.

A wide-ranging survey of international attitudes in 47 countries by the Pew Research Center also reported that in many of the countries where support for suicide attacks has declined, there also has been decreasing support for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The 95-page survey found that surging economic growth in many developing countries has encouraged residents to express satisfaction with their personal lives, family income and national conditions, said Andrew Kohut, the center’s director.

“It’s a pro-globalization set of findings,” Mr. Kohut said.

Most notably, the survey found a large and growing number of Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere rejecting Islamic extremism. Ten mainly Muslim countries were surveyed along with the Palestinian territories, as well as five African nations with large Muslim populations.

For example, the percentage of Jordanian Muslims who have confidence in bin Laden as a world leader fell 36 percentage points to 20 percent since 2003, while the proportion who say suicide bombing is sometimes or always justified dropped 20 percentage points to 23 percent. Other countries where support for bin Laden declined are Lebanon, Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan and Kuwait.

The report said support for suicide bombings and other terror tactics has dropped since 2002 in seven of the eight countries in which data were available. In Lebanon, the proportion of Muslims who say suicide attacks are often or sometimes justified fell to 34 percent from 79 percent, while just 9 percent of Pakistanis believe suicide bombings can be justified often or sometimes, down from 33 percent in 2002 and a high of 41 percent in 2004.

But support for suicide bombings is widespread among Palestinians, the report said, with 41 percent asserting that such attacks are often justified while another 29 percent say they can sometimes be justified.

It found that only 6 percent of Palestinians — the smallest percentage in any Muslim public surveyed — say such attacks are never justified.

Amid continuing sectarian violence in Iraq, the survey found a broad concern among Muslims that tensions between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims are not limited to that country and represent a growing problem for the Muslim world.

Eighty-eight percent of Lebanese and 73 percent of Kuwaitis — along with smaller majorities or pluralities of Muslims elsewhere in the Middle East — said Sunni-Shi’ite tensions represent a growing problem for the Muslim world.

The polls — with a sampling error of two to four percentage points, depending on the sampling size — were taken from mid-April to the end of May, and involved about 1,000 samples in most countries.

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