A new survey out on Tuesday shows that a majority of Muslims worldwide not only have serious concerns about religious extremism, but also reject Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and violence in the name of Islam.
The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, surveyed samples of the population from eleven majority Muslim countries — Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Senegal, Tunisia, and Turkey — asking about their views on Islamic extremism and the violence carried out in its name. The results show that a median of 67 percent of those reached out to are either somewhat or very concerned about extremism in their countries. In some states, such as Lebanon and Tunisia, the number climbs above 70 percent. Turkey actually stands out as the only country polled where more than half of the those surveyed say they are not concerned about extremism.
That widespread skepticism towards extremism is mirrored in rejection of those who carry out attacks and other violence to promote their views of Islam:
Al Qaeda, which is responsible for some of the most well-known and devastating terrorist attacks in the last 15 years, receives the most negative ratings among the extremist groups included in the survey. A median of 57% across the 11 Muslim publics surveyed hold an unfavorable view of the group. This includes strong majorities of Muslims in Lebanon (96%), Jordan (81%), Turkey (73%), and Egypt (69%). More than half of Muslims in Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Indonesia, and the Palestinian territories also view al Qaeda negatively. In Pakistan and Malaysia, Muslim views of al Qaeda are on balance unfavorable, but many offer no opinion.
The Taliban in Afghanistan, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon were all also given unfavorable ratings from the median of respondents.
Support for suicide bombing has likewise plummeted throughout the Islamic world compared to past years. In Lebanon alone, the number of respondents who believed that suicide bombing is sometimes or often justified dropped from 74 percent in 2002 to 33 percent today. Pakistanis showed the least support for the tactic, with 89 percent of those surveyed opposed to its use in any circumstances.
Interestingly enough, the survey also manages to disconnect the idea of adherence to Islam to support for suicide bombing. “For the most part, support for suicide bombing is not correlated with devoutness,” Pew wrote in its results. “Generally, Muslims who say they pray five times per day are no more likely to support targeting civilians to protect Islam than those who pray less often.”