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New Poll of Islamic World Says Most Muslims Reject Terrorism

The preliminary results of a worldwide survey of predominantly Islamic countries says most Muslims condemn terrorism and extremism. The Gallup Organization released the results during a news conference in Washington.

The Gallup polling organization released the first round of findings based on a worldwide survey of Muslims from countries ranging from North Africa, to the Middle East, to Southeast Asia.

The data show a generally unfavorable view of the United States and Britain, as well as a distrust of American intentions to establish democracy in the Middle East and South Asia.

Georgetown University Religion and International Affairs Professor John Esposito says the results indicate a deepening gulf between Muslim countries and the West. "At times it looks like we do have a clash of cultures or certainly a clash of cultures that is looming very close to us. Anti-Americanism remains very strong and in some areas is growing. Terrorism is growing. In the West we see an increase in negative attitudes towards Islam and Muslims, both in America and Europe and we now find the word Islamophobia more and more being used," he said.

The executive director of Muslim Studies for Gallup, Dalia Mogahed, says the survey also shows a strong majority of those polled in Islamic countries oppose terrorist attacks on civilians.

Mogahed says while religion is a very important part of everyday life, most Muslims denounce the use of faith to promote terrorism. "On the one hand, we found that the most admired aspect of the Muslim world was people's religious adherence. But when we asked people what do you admire least about the Muslim world, sort of a critique, among the most frequent responses was extremism, radicalism, terrorism and fanaticism. So there is on one hand a love of Islam and on the other hand a condemnation of extremism," she said.

Mogahed says the results of the Gallup survey show that technology and political freedom are the most admired aspects of life in the West. The survey, she says, indicates a majority of Muslims want a system of government that combines democracy and their Islamic faith.

Mogahed says most Muslims surveyed want respect for themselves and their religion from people in Western countries. "The overwhelming response was to respect Islam, to stop associating, to stop seeing Muslims as inferior, to stop thinking of us as barbaric. So there is this keen sense of humiliation, and I think it is important to note this feeling because from a psychological point of view it has been called the nuclear bomb of emotion. It is very combustible," he said.

By the end of this year the Gallup organization says it will have polled Muslims in 40 countries and will release results it says will reflect the views and aspirations of more than one billion Muslims around the globe.