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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More