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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid