LONDON: The war on terror has radicalised Muslims around the world to unprecedented levels of anti-US feeling, according to the largest survey of Islamic believers ever to be conducted.
Seven per cent of Muslims believe the September 11 attacks were “completely justified”. In Saudi Arabia, 79 per cent have an “unfavourable view” of the US.
Gallup’s Centre for Muslim Studies in New York carried out surveys of 10,000 Muslims in 10 predominantly Muslim countries in 2005 and 2006.
One finding was that the wealthier and better-educated the Muslim was, the more likely they were to be radicalised.
Along with an earlier Gallup survey in nine other countries in 2001, they represent the views of more than 90 per cent of the world’s Muslims. A further 1500 Muslims in London, Paris and Berlin are involved in a separate poll to be published in April.
The Gallup findings indicate that, in terms of spiritual values and the emphasis on the family and the future, Americans have more in common with Muslims than they do with their Western counterparts in Europe.
A large number of Muslims supported the Western ideal of democratic government. Fifty per cent of radical Muslims supported democracy, compared with 35 per cent of moderates.
Religion had little to do with antipathy towards Western culture, which Muslims said had a sense of moral decay. What they admired most was its liberty, democratic system, technology and freedom of speech.
While there was widespread support for sharia, or Islamic law, only a minority wanted religious leaders to make laws. Most women in predominantly Muslim countries believed sharia should be the source of a nation’s laws, but they strongly believed in equal rights for women.