Fears of extremism rise in Muslim nations, poll shows

The Malaysian Insider
2 July 2014

Fears about Islamic extremism are rising in nations with large Muslim populations from the Middle East to South Asia and support for radical groups is on the slide, according to a poll released yesterday.

Concern about extremism has increased in the past 12 months amid the dragging war in Syria and attacks by Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants, the Pew Research Center found after interviewing more than 14,200 people in 14 countries.

Extremist groups such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and even Hamas, which won elections to take control of running the Gaza Strip, are also losing support.

And backing for the use of suicide bombings against civilian targets has dropped significantly in the past decade following a slew of brutal attacks.

The review was carried out from April 10 to May 25, before the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – now renamed the Islamic State – took over the northern Iraqi town of Mosul in a lightning offensive which has seen it seize a large swathe of territory.

In Lebanon, which shares a border with Syria, as many as 92% of those interviewed said they were worried about Islamic extremism.

That figure was up 11 points from 2013, and was spread evenly among Lebanon’s Sunni, Shiite and Christian communities.

Concern has also risen in Jordan and Turkey, both of which border Syria and have taken in significant numbers of refugees fleeing the three-year war to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in which extremists have increasingly moved into the chaos.

Some 62 % of Jordanians voiced fears about extremism, up 13 points since 2012, while in Turkey half of those polled shared the same concerns, up 18 points from two years ago.

“In Asia, strong majorities in Bangladesh (69%), Pakistan (66%) and Malaysia (63%) are concerned about Islamic extremism,” the Pew report said.

However, in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, such fears were not shared, with only four in ten people voicing any anxiety about extremism.

An overwhelming majority of Nigerians (79%) were against Boko Haram, behind the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls earlier this year, while 59% of Pakistanis said they have no love for Taliban militants.

Just over half of Palestinians (53%) have an unfavourable opinion of Hamas, blamed this week by Israel for the murders of three teenagers, and the figure rises to 63% in the Gaza Strip, higher than on the West Bank controlled by the rival Fatah party.

Only 46% of Palestinians believed that suicide bombings could be justified against civilians, down from 70% in 2007.

And the figure among Lebanese Muslims has fallen from 74% in 2007 to 29% today. – AFP, July 2, 2014.

  1. #1 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 2 July 2014 - 10:53 am

    It is confirmed that many such pious leaders do not care a damn for any consequences that arise out of their singular desire to take the leadership role in the name of the Almighty! Ain’t IT says that the only thinking creature HE had created is the human race? Their action actually insults the very Creator HIMSELF! We have enough examples the world over that such blind obligation to such cause had created chaos and havoc in so many places and across so many millennium. Yet we are going to repeat it over and over again. Reason: closing the mind like we are doing here with objectives to stop those easily ingrained with fears of their very own shadows! As we ride into the 21st Century; we can already see the future of this nation: leaders blinded by political agenda just to please voters without caring for the outcome. Example; the New Zealand diplomat issue. What a joker we have as a FM!

  2. #2 by ronnick on Thursday, 3 July 2014 - 1:23 pm

    In a sense Muslim societies around the world deserve to experience the rule of Islam, at least once [more] in their growth into mature modern secular and democratic societies. It is a growth process and is inevitable. Much like the stupidities of the teen age, it may be a necessary evil they must go through or face stunted social and intellectual growth for the rest of history. I’ve been a fervent advocate of crushing Islamic (or any theocratic) sentiments, perhaps because I myself come from one such background. If you may have noticed from the rampant encounters we all have with the Iranians visiting Malaysia, unlike what we may picture Iran to be, these are quite outgoing in their disowning of Islam and whatever is associated with it. This is the result of an otherwise formerly enlightened and previously modern nation having had first-hand experience of Islam down to its bones for 35 years now (don’t look at the Saudis here in Malaysia, they’re still in the dust, with a clean slate just yet as to all the notions of civilized existence and enlightened ideals). But after all these years of pointless preaching against the ideology and it’s inherent theocracy, here is what I have eventually come to accept: that no matter how much we the advocates of enlightenment preach around against retrograde and fundamentalism, it is going to fall on deaf ears, make our audience more infatuated with the warped fantasy of the kingdom of God, and will only demonize us more in their eyes. Best thing is, let them taste the real deal for three or four decades. Trust me the results will surprise you in ways you couldn’t imagine before!

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