December 3rd, 2010
12:07 PM ET
Editor's Note: This report comes from the CNN Wires desk.
Muslims in many parts of the Islamic world overwhelmingly reject al Qaeda, support a large role for their faith in government and believe democracy is preferable to any other kind of political structure, according to a new survey released by Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project.
The study also found falling support for suicide bombings, as well as mixed attitudes towards Hamas and Hezbollah, Islamic groups designated as terrorist organizations by Western governments but which operate extensive social services networks in parts of the Muslim world.
The survey, conducted this spring in Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey, found that only in Nigeria did Muslim populations have anything approaching a favorable view of al Qaeda, with 49 percent expressing positive views and 34 percent holding an unfavorable opinion.
At least seven in 10 Muslims had unfavorable views of the group in Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon, as did lesser majorities in Jordan and Indonesia, according to the study.
But views of Hamas and Hezbollah were more mixed. Both groups got favorable ratings from a majority of Jordanian Muslims, with 60 percent supporting Hamas and 55 percent holding favorable views of Hezbollah, Pew reported.
Hezbollah received a narrow 52 percent favorable rating in its home base of Lebanon. But that slim majority belies deep divisions across Islamic sects in Lebanon, with 94 percent of Shia supporting Hezbollah and 84 percent of Sunnis looking on the group unfavorably.
Muslims in every nation but Turkey expressed a positive feeling about Islam's influence in their nation's politics. More than nine in 10 Indonesian Muslims said its influence is positive, as did more than eight in 10 Egyptian and Nigerian Muslims. In Jordan, 76 percent of Muslims approved of Islam's influence, as did 69 percent in Pakistan and 58 percent in Lebanon.
In Turkey, 38 percent had a positive opinion of Islam's influence in political life.
At the same time, majorities of Muslims in every country but Turkey said they were concerned about Islamic extremism in the world and their own countries.
Democracy was favored by a majority of Muslims in every country but Pakistan, although even there it received the largest share of responses. Lebanese Muslims were most favorable toward democracy, followed by those in Turkey, Jordan, Nigeria, Indonesia and Egypt.
Support for suicide bombing had also fallen by double digits since 2002 in every country except Turkey, where it was never well-received among Muslims, according to the study.
The survey also found support for gender segregation in the workplace in Pakistan, Egypt and Jordan and positive views of harsh punishments for various crimes in Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan.
The survey was conducted April 12 to May 7. In each of the countries except Pakistan, the sample was nationwide with a 4 percentage point sampling error. In Pakistan, respondents were predominantly urban and the sampling error was 3 percentage points.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.