A new survey of four major Muslim nations says a large majority of people in those countries believes that undermining Islam is a key goal of U.S. foreign policy. The poll was released Tuesday in Washington and VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details.
The survey was conducted by the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland of more than 4,000 people in Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia and Morocco.
Steven Kull, director of the university's Program on International Policy Attitudes, says most Muslims polled in these countries have an overwhelmingly unfavorable opinion of the U.S. government.
Kull says what most Americans view as the war on terror since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, is perceived by those Muslims surveyed as an assault on their religion.
"Very large majorities say it is definitely or probably a goal of the U.S. to weaken and divide the Islamic world," he said. "This feeling, tone, comes through strongly in the focus groups as well, this feeling of being under siege. We may conceive of the war on terrorism as being focused on terrorists. There is clearly a feeling in this part of the world that it is a war against Islam."
According to the survey, most respondents have mixed feelings about the terrorist group al-Qaida. Large majorities of those polled agree with al-Qaida's goal of trying to drive the U.S. military out of Muslim countries.
They also say, however, that groups such as al-Qaida who use violence against civilians are violating the principles of Islam.
Steven Kull says many of those polled approve of efforts to target U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. "One of the more disturbing findings is that there is substantial support for attacks on U.S. troops operating in the region," he added.
The survey says large majorities of those polled support efforts to expand the role of Islam in their societies.
While wary of Western values, majorities of people surveyed in each country say a democratic political system is a good way of governing their countries.