News / Middle East

Survey Finds Muslims Concerned About Extremism

FILE - Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria.
FILE - Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria.
Kokab Farshori

A recent survey by the Washington-based PEW Center shows fears about Islamist militancy have considerably increased in the countries with large Muslim populations. The survey shows a large number of people in several countries reject the violent tactics by well-known groups like al-Qaida, Hamas, the Taliban and Nigeria’s Boko Haram. 

From the Middle East to South Asia, Muslim societies have suffered from extremism and violence resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives in recent years. The PEW survey, done in 14 countries with significant Muslim populations, polled more than 14,000 people from April to May of this year. 

The survey was conducted before the recent takeover of Mosul and other areas of Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, or ISIL. 

Results of the survey show that most people in Muslim countries are concerned about extremism in their midst, and in Middle Eastern societies, that level of concern has increased from last year.

In Lebanon, 92 percent of the respondents are worried about Islamic extremism, up 11 points from 81 percent in 2013.

In Tunisia, eight in every 10 respondents are concerned about extremism in their country, up from 71 percent in 2013 and 65 percent in 2012.

Majorities in South Asian Muslim countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan express grave concern about Islamic extremism in their societies. In Bangladesh, the number is 69 percent, while 66 percent of Pakistanis are concerned about the extremism that experts believe triggers bigotry and violence.

Saifullah Mehsud, a Pakistani social activist, told VOA he is not surprised at the survey’s findings because the people of Pakistan have suffered from extremism and violence for the last 10 years. Mehsud said authorities have not done enough to assure them these extremists can be dealt with sternly.

The survey also showed that the most well-known Islamist groups are held in low esteem.

Al-Qaida is viewed most negatively in Lebanon, with 96 percent, followed by Turkey at 85 percent, Jordan at 83 percent and Egypt at 81 percent.

For Hezbollah, 59 percent of the respondents have an unfavorable view in Lebanon. This includes 88 percent of Lebanese Sunni Muslims and 69 percent of Lebanese Christians. However, 86 percent of Lebanese Shi’ite Muslims have a favorable view of the Shi’ite-dominated group.

Hamas does not do well either, as 53 percent of those polled in the Palestinian territories have an unfavorable view of Hamas, with only about 35 percent expressing positive views.

In Pakistan, 59 percent see the Taliban in a negative light.

Ayesha Siddiqua, a Pakistani social scientist and author of several books, told VOA that in order to effectively fight the Islamist extremism, Muslim societies will have to do more than express concern.

"I think we badly need secularization in the Muslim world. Which basically means, it is not lack of faith, but it is separation of religion from the politics of state. It is de-politicization of religion. Unless we settle these issues, I don’t think we will be able to turn our societies around," said Siddiqua.

Siddiqua said it is the mindset that allows room for extremism and even violence to enforce religious practices that has to change.

The element in the survey that strengthens what analysts like Siddiqua advocate is the drop in support for using suicide bombing as a means to achieve any objectives.

The percentage of Muslims who say suicide bombing is often or sometimes justified has fallen in many countries.

In 2002, 74 percent of Lebanese Muslims said suicide bombing was often or sometimes justified. That number has fallen to 29 percent in the recent survey.  In Pakistan, the number has dropped from 33 percent in 2002 to only 3 percent in this year’s survey.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs