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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs