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Last Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Survey highlights Islam-West rift
Placard at London demonstration
Some saw the cartoon row as sign of a "clash of civilisations"
Deep mutual suspicions exist between the Muslim world and the West, a survey of global opinion suggests.

Many Westerners see Muslims as fanatical, violent and intolerant, according to the study by the Pew Research Center in Washington.

Muslims, for their part, tend to view the West as selfish, immoral, and greedy - as well as fanatical and violent - the survey says.

The researchers canvassed the opinions of 14,000 people in 13 countries.

BBC Islamic affairs analyst Roger Hardy says a string of events, from last year's London bombings to the more recent row over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad, appear to have taken their toll on relations between Islam and the West.

Muslim opinions about the West and its people have worsened over the past year and by overwhelming margins
Pew Center report

The Pew Research Center's survey, published on Thursday, speaks of a "great divide" between the two.

It says that Muslims and Westerners blame each other for deteriorating relations.

Muslim people "have an aggrieved view of the West" and are "much more likely than Americans or Western Europeans to blame Western policies for their own lack of prosperity", the authors contend.

By contrast Western publics say Muslims are held back by "government corruption, lack of education and Islamic fundamentalism", they add.

Hopeful signs?

The report says the "chasm" between Muslims and the West is also seen in judgements about how the other side treats women.

Westerners, by large margins, do not regard Muslims as "respectful of women", while majorities in four of the five Muslim countries said the same about the West.

DID ARABS CARRY OUT 9/11?
British Muslims: 56% No
French Muslims: 46% No
Indonesia: 65% No
Egypt: 59% No
Turkey: 59% No
Jordan: 53% No
(Source: Pew Center)

Despite the divide, attitudes are not uniformly negative.

Solid majorities in France, the US and Britain retain overall favourable opinions of Muslims, while positive views of Muslims have declined sharply in Spain (from 46% to 29%), the survey notes.

It says about eight in 10 people in both Spain and Germany associate Islam with fanaticism - a view that is less prevalent in France (50%), Britain (48%) and the US (43%).

Likewise, Muslim opinion is far from uniform, with Muslim minorities in Europe often attributing positive attributes to Westerners - including tolerance, generosity, and respect for women.

On the other hand, in Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia large majorities describe the West as "selfish", "arrogant", and "violent".

Muslims and Al-Qaeda

In one of the survey's most striking findings, majorities in Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan said they did not believe Arabs carried out the attacks on the US on 11 September 2001.

READ THE FINDINGS

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The report says this attitude is not limited to Muslims in Muslim-dominated countries - 56% of British Muslims said the same.

The survey cited a dramatic drop in support for Osama Bin Laden in Jordan as a sign of falling support for terrorism in Muslim countries.

Less than 1% of respondents in the country - hit by triple hotel bombings last November - expressed confidence in Bin Laden, down from a quarter last year.

Confidence in the al-Qaeda leader had also fallen in Pakistan, where 38% of people expressed some confidence in him, down from 51%.

However 61% of Nigerian Muslims had at least some confidence in bin Laden, a sharp rise from 44% in May 2003.


SEE ALSO
Europe's angry young Muslims 2
14 Mar 06 |  Europe
Cartoons: Divisions and inconsistencies
13 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Is Islam compatible with the West?
15 Sep 05 |  Magazine
Support for Bin Laden 'declining'
15 Jul 05 |  Middle East

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