Pew Survey: Western, Muslim tensions persist, but there's a tiny thaw
July 21st, 2011
03:59 PM ET

Pew Survey: Western, Muslim tensions persist, but there's a tiny thaw

By Joe Sterling, CNN

Westerners and Muslims continue to harbor negative attitudes toward each other, but there's a glimmer of change in Western attitudes, a new survey found.

The idea that relations are bad has become "somewhat less common" over the past five years in the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Russia, according to the survey, called "Muslim-Western Tensions Persist," produced by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project.

Still, "Muslim and Western publics continue to see relations between them as generally bad, with both sides holding negative stereotypes of the other," says the center's report on the survey released Thursday.

Many Westerners view Muslims "as fanatical and violent" and few regard Muslims as "tolerant or respectful of women," the report says. Muslims in the Middle East and Asia generally see Westerners as "selfish, immoral and greedy - as well as violent and fanatical."

"However, the latest Pew Global Attitudes survey finds somewhat of a thaw in the U.S. and Europe compared with five years ago," the report says. "A greater percentage of Western publics now see relations between themselves and Muslims as generally good compared with 2006.

"In contrast, Muslims in predominantly Muslim nations are as inclined to say relations are generally bad as they were five years ago. And, as in the past, Muslims express more unfavorable opinions about Christians than Americans or Europeans express about Muslims," the report says.

"For the most part, Muslims and Westerners finger point about the causes of problems in their relations, and about which side holds the high ground on key issues. Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere who say relations with the West are bad overwhelmingly blame the West. However, while Americans and Europeans tend to blame Muslims for bad relations, significant numbers believe Westerners are responsible."

The survey, conducted March 21 to May 15 in a dozen countries and the Palestinian territories, updates a number of trend questions from a 2006 Pew Global Attitudes poll exploring how Muslim and Western publics view each other.

There are concerns in both cultures about "Islamic extremism."

"Majorities in the U.S., Israel, and across Europe are concerned about Islamic extremism in their countries. Meanwhile, most Muslims in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkey also express this view," the survey found.

Many Muslims blame Western policies for a "lack of prosperity" in their countries but also blame corrupt governments there, the report says.

"Perhaps reflecting the Arab Spring, in several Muslim and Western nations, people are more likely than they were five years ago to say the lack of prosperity stems from a lack of democracy, it says.

There is a "note of agreement" between Muslims and Westerners that Muslim countries should be "more prosperous."

"Muslim publics have an aggrieved view of the West - they blame Western policies for their own lack of prosperity," the report says. "Across the Muslim publics surveyed, a median of 53% say U.S. and Western policies are one of the top two reasons why Muslim nations are not wealthier. In contrast, few Americans or Western Europeans think the economic challenges facing Muslim countries are a result of Western policies."

The report also highlights other illuminating points:

- Muslims remain skeptical toward the belief that Arabs conducted the 9/11 attacks. There is no Muslim public in which even 30% accept what is regarded in the United States and other Western nations as an undisputed fact.

– Muslims "identify" with their religion rather than their nationality. Christians in Europe identify with their nationality, but "American Christians are split."

- "Ratings for Jews are uniformly low" in predominantly Muslim nations, but "solid majorities" in the Western nations "have a favorable opinion" of Jewish people. "Less than 10% of Muslims in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Turkey, Pakistan and Indonesia express a favorable view of Jews."

- Among Israel's minority Muslim community, "48% express a positive opinion of Jews, while 49% offer a negative opinion. In contrast, only 9% of Israeli Jews have a positive view of Muslims. Christians receive somewhat higher ratings among Israeli Muslims (67% favorable) than among Israeli Jews (51%)."

- A majority of people in four of the six mostly Christian nations surveyed say they have a positive opinion of Muslims. They are the United States, Britain, France and Russia. "The exceptions are Germany (45% favorable) and Spain (37%), although views toward Muslims have improved in both countries since 2006."

- "In Lebanon, which has a large Christian population, nearly all Muslims (96%) express a positive view of Christians. Narrow majorities of Jordanian (57%) and Indonesian (52%) Muslims also give Christians a favorable rating, while in Egypt - which has recently experienced violence between elements of its Muslim and Christian communities - views are divided (48% favorable; 47% unfavorable). Meanwhile, very few Muslims in Pakistan (16%) or Turkey (6%) have a positive opinion of Christians."

- While Muslim assessments of relationships tend to be "at least as negative as they were five years ago," Indonesia is an exception. Fewer Indonesians say Muslim-Western relations are negative.

- Lebanese Muslims are "consistently the least likely to assign negative characteristics to Westerns."

- In Jordan, concerns have dropped significantly over Islamic extremism in the past five years.

- There is a "widespread perception" that Muslims living in the West don't want to assimilate. People without college degrees are "more likely" than those who have them "to believe that Muslims want to remain distinct from the broader society."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Interfaith issues • Islam

soundoff (269 Responses)
  1. john swanson

    Actually,who cares.There is but one god,eather ALLA or GOD he is the same person who MUSLIMS OR CHRISTIANS,OR JEWS ,OR people who believe in BUDDA believe in.If there was more than one God,heaven would be over crowded with gods then who would you believe in.So everybody get to geather and quite killing each other for the same GOD.

    September 23, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  2. Muneef

    Peace and Ramadan Kareem to all Muslim Brothers and Sisters...Inshallah fasting from Monday Dawn to SunSet...
    Just wonder in Christians or non Religious have tried fasting as Muslims do...am sure with time they will adopt it as a system for the health benefits it holds health and body...it is told it helps the body to discharge and burn out the poisonous chemicals from our bodies other than controlling weights... Some say they can not because of smoking other for water or food...but other than that is controlling anger or bad mood of the empty stomach, controlling one's tongue from hurting any one,to control eyes from staring at desire... Above all those to a Muslim he is to Maintain Prayers and Quran Reciting which of course beside it being a spiritual matter it is meant the body exercise by the up's and down's of prayers....as well as training of tongue & lungs by the Quran Recitation...these beside Tasbih "Praise of Glorify" helps to control one's breathing..

    So you see it is all good and challenging since only by those means can you gain control your desires... 

    Control of Desire Quran verses same Verse in Arabic but in English check translation and God knows how many are other more...such as these things case confusion among non Arab Muslims and non Muslims..although all end to mean same thing but in different ways that caused it be misunderstood...then the fact of being translated in many languages in the same way...! This was just a standing example of the Quran although still alive existing and in one copy !?
    Then imagine what could have had happened to the Torah and or Gospel having passed through three dead languages,one after the other then from a classic language into modern language, in many different copies then into many languages.

    Read and Judge; 
    [79:40] As for the one who reverenced the majesty of his Lord, and enjoined the self from sinful lusts.
    [79:41] Paradise will be the abode.
    But as for him who feared to stand before his Lord and restrained his soul from lust, (40) Lo! the Garden will be his home. (41)
    And as for him who dreaded standing before his Lord, and restrained his soul from lust, (40) Verily the Garden! -that shall be his resort. (41)
    And for such as had entertained the fear of standing before their Lord's (tribunal) and had restrained (their) soul from lower Desires, (40) Their Abode will be the Garden. (41).
    But as for him who feared standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from impure evil desires, and lusts. (40) Verily, Paradise will be his abode. (41).
    Whereas for the one who feared to stand before his Lord, and restrained his self from the (evil) desire, (40) The Paradise will be the abode. (41).

    July 30, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Hehe101

      Jews fast on Yom Kippur, and can't eat certain foods during Peasach ( Passover). Christians fast during lent. We all fast at some point during the year.

      August 11, 2011 at 7:18 am |
  3. Muneef

    Could not open this report to see but maybe you can;

    July 30, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  4. AvdBerg

    By reading the comments on this Blog it seems very obvious to us that all the foundations of the earth out of course (Psalms 82:5). For a better understanding of this scriptural verse we invite you to read the latest article ‘CNN Belief Blog ~ Sign of the Times’ listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Please ignore any messages that inform you that we are on a troll and that ask you to activate the abuse button or even refer you to a gaychristian website. It is an attempt to discredit the work of our Ministry, which is for the edifying of the Body of Christ – His Church (Eph. 4:12).

    July 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • AvdBerg

      By reading the comments on this Blog it seems very obvious to us that all the foundations of the earth out of course . For a better understanding of this scriptural verse we invite you to visit our website http://www.gaychristian101.com

      July 29, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • .....

      Thanks for proving what a troll you are by posting the same thing over and over again. This original post by AvdBerg is a troll on this site trying to sell their cult and book, when ever you see their post click the report abuse link to get rid of this troll.

      July 29, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  5. Muneef

    They say;

    Atheism can hide behind the musk of theism to pass on their political views which they can not achieve through atheism alone...
    "Impression is that Religion is used more as a vehicle to unjustly assign some religious moral weight," to support political views".

    July 27, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  6. Muneef

    Norway Killings Shift Immigrant Debate in Europe
    Just occurred to me that this whole man show about Islam & Muslims was simply executed as a Sign of the Rejection of "Turkey" from joining the European League...am sure he does not mind Islam but not that of "Turkey" as a Race and Religion.... Seems some big one's mind the joining of "Turkey" and that is why all this pressure applied to make Muslims life more difficult in Europe with so many regulations... Some are taking into consideration the balance of powers and religions...
    Why can't Europe say no to America if do not want the joining of "Turkey" to League...why buy time prolonging with excuses and conditions while from inside they fight any thing called Islamic from appearance to rituals...?!

    July 27, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Muneef

      Islam-phobia is;
      Europe's Muslim Capital
      No European capital was more cosmopolitan than Constantinople. Its geographical position across the main route between Europe and Asia, its port ‘the finest and most secure I have ever seen’, in the words of the Sieur de Combes in 1688, made it the natural capital of Anatolia, the Balkans and beyond. In its last centuries as capital of the Byzantine Empire, it was not only the holy city of the Orthodox world, dedicated to the Mother of God, but also a cosmopolitan trading centre, with Venetian, Genoese, Muslim, Jewish, Slav and Avar inhabitants.

      Why Europe can not say openly no to Joining the European Unity nor can let go;
      Turkey has dominated European politics for centuries. Turkey was a superpower previously when the Ottoman’s managed to unite many of the lands around Western Turkey. They removed the Byzantine Empire as the world’s superpower and menaced Europe for centuries. In 1453 the Ottoman’s concluded the conquest of Constantinople, the Byzantine capital. This brought to an end all remnants of Roman rule, who had been the world’s superpower for nearly four centuries. 

      July 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Muneef

      To be or not to be?

      Arguments for and against Turkey joining the EU

      In or Out? The red-hot Turkey issue
      The argument has raged for 45 years over whether Turkey should become part of Europe, ever since it signed an Association Agreement in 1963 as a first step toward membership. European opinion remains as divided as ever, and we briefly summarize here the main pros and cons.

      FOR Turkey joinig the EU
      AGAINST Turkey joinig the EU

      July 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  7. Muneef

    Anders Behring Breivik,Norway,Oslo 95 innocent life wasted on a "One Man Show" ....
    This example is the example of Western and Muslim Tentions that mark a start of violence against the Westren Systems,against Muslims and colored communities or individuals....
    Muslims are unwanted in the west...they are being pushed out until now only by the mention of words,by the imposing of laws that dismay the Muslims such as to the shape of Mosques in Switzland,The Niqab&Borqo in France, The Islamic Slaughter Rituals in Holland....
    Really just do not understand if you did not need all those Muslims or non Muslims immigrants into your countries from the first place....!!! What has changed that now ?
    If you do not want other nations out number you in your land,it is either you should not allow immigration or make new laws as to Divorce and Marriages beside taking into consideration allowing polygamy if permited by the first female partner whether she is well giving birth or sick unable to give birth... You cannot go on wiping reducing nations every time they exceed your populations ??!

    July 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Muneef

      Muslims is a General word that includes every Muslim from every continent on the Globe?? That is way you should take Muslims bases their race origin and not by the bases of their Religious beliefs, what ever their acts were criminal or religious extremes...but it is not fair to generalize since may there be Muslims from your own skins or race origins....

      July 26, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • Hehe101

      It's true. In 5th grade, one of our lunch supervisors ( her son was in my class) was Muslim and wore a head scarf – They were white. I've seen many Muslim women who are black as well.

      August 11, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  8. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    PEW Poll says: "Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere who say relations with the West are bad overwhelmingly blame the West."

    Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA, IMAM RAUF, ETHAN CASEY, Dean ObeidALLAH, Teresita Schafer all think so too!

    July 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
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