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Support for Terrorism Declining in Middle East


Two new public opinion polls suggest support for terrorism in the name of Islam is declining among the world's Muslims

A majority of Jordanians thought violence against civilian targets was justifiable until suicide bombers attacked three hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman. At least 60 people were killed in the November 9th attacks. The terrorist group Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the bombings.

A survey done by the Global Attitudes Project of the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C.-- prior to the attacks -- showed 57 percent of Jordanians supported violence against civilians in some circumstances.

But the day after the hotel bombings -- which were the deadliest terror attacks ever carried out on Jordanian soil -- thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to protest such violence.

"There's no question that there is a turning in the Muslim world of opinion against Islamic terrorism," Jodie Allen, the Senior Editor of the Pew report, explains.

"I think it is in large part because of their experience with it and as more and more Muslim populations, rather than just a bunch of, you know, distant New Yorkers or Londoners, are affected by it, you see this rising concern," she says.

Ms. Allen says in most predominantly Muslim countries, the mastermind of the September 11th 2001 terror attacks against the U.S., Osama bin Laden, and his Al-Qaida terror network are no longer popular.

Another public opinion survey came to a similar conclusion. It was conducted by Professor Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland in conjunction with the polling firm, Zogby International. They also found that support for terrorism -- and Al-Qaida in particular -- is down.

Professor Telhami said at a news briefing, "It is clear the vast majority of people do not support it because of for the aims it stands for. Only six percent believe, it is -- sympathize with its advocacy of an Islamic state. Only seven percent support its methods and the majorities of people either support it because it is confronting the U.S. or they think it is speaking for causes that few others are speaking for."

Professor Telhami also says sometimes support for Al-Qaida in the Arab world is a reaction against the U.S. and its position in Iraq.

"Iraq has become the prism through which Arabs are evaluating the U.S. and the world,” he said. “Countries that didn't participate are being thought of in a favorable view. Countries that took the lead are thought of negatively."

The Pew survey also found Islamic influence rising in predominantly Muslim countries as well as enthusiasm about democracy.

"We do see an up-tick in the number of countries saying -- Muslim countries saying -- that democracy is a way of life that can work for them,” said Ms. Allen.

She adds that polls show that people in Muslim countries have a good understanding of what democracy really means.

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