Monday, October 23, 2006

Poll shock! Muslims like the West!

But many critical of US/UK foreign policy
Julaybib Ayoub, The Daily Terror

A cross-section of adults polled in Muslim majority nations across the Arab world and elsewhere admire technology, democracy and many of the cultural values and achievements of the West, a new study has revealed. The Poll, carried out by Gallup in association with Professor John L Esposito of Georgetown University, also revealed that Islamists hold almost identical views about the West to non-political Muslims, with both increasingly critical of elements of UK and American foreign policy.

The survey, details of which were published in Harvard International Review and ISIM Review, also revealed that Muslims were able to discriminate between the foreign policies of the UK/USA and other Western nations, with many equally critical of Muslim nations such as Pakistan. Muslims were particularly critical of USA's "double standard" of supporting democracy in its own country whilst demonstrating a total disregard for democracy, human rights and justice in other nations.

The study also points to a huge shift in support for radical Islamist groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah throughout the Muslim world, following Israel’s war against the democratically elected government in Palestine and its invasion of Lebanon this year. Professor Esposito, writing in ISIM review, suggests that such support would have been “unimaginable” prior to the latest upsurge in Israeli military violence. Amnesty International and other human rights groups have accused Israel of war crimes. Both the UK and UK governments are understood to have condoned or actively supported Israel in its attacks on Gaza and Lebanon.

Esposito is critical of political responses to Muslim support for radical Islamism, notably the appointment of Karen Hughes as “Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy” by the Bush administration. In the UK, the British government has recently implied its intention to sponsor only those national Muslim groups who avoid criticising British foreign policy. “Public diplomacy is more than public relations.” Argued Esposito, who is a founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for Christian-Muslim understanding. “It is about acting consistently with the words one speaks.”

In commenting on the poll results, Professor Esposito indicated a need to distinguish between radical and mainstream Islamist organisations. In recent years, Islamist groups in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia have turned to peaceful, democractic methods, often in the face of hostile governments eager to appease American foreign policy. The study recommends US and UK governments set clear limits on their support for Israel, whilst recognising Muslim anti-Americanism is the result of US foreign policy, and not hatred for the American way of life.

3 comment(s):

  • "Professor Esposito, writing in ISIM review, suggests that such support would have been “unimaginable” prior to the latest upsurge in Israeli military violence."

    I think Esposito might need to work some on his imagination.

    Hizb.'s popularity amongst *Sunnis* went way up *not* because of "Israeli" terror, but because of the movement's effective *resistance to that terror*. Similarly, Hamas's popularity is because of their being able to effectively respond to atleast some of Palestinian needs while they are under a terror occupation.

    Hizb. was already very popular and respected amongst Shias (at the grassroots level) both within and outside of Lebanon. What changed after this round of effective resistance against "israeli" terror was that that popularity could be displayed openly now within Sunni majority countries - because of Hizb.'s wide popularity now amongst Sunnis.

    By Blogger redwood, at 10/23/2006 07:40:00 AM  

  • This isn't a verbatim summary of Esposito's findings, whom I'm sure is aware of the details of support for Hizb and the reasons behind it. Rather, my intention was to employ his findings broadly under an ironic heading, in in order to highlight the way the media and politicians in the US/UK routinely misrepresent the relationship between Islam, Islamism and the West.

    Perhaps I was being to subtle.



    By Blogger Julaybib, at 10/23/2006 08:11:00 AM  

  • Salaam,

    I understand what you are saying, just wanted to add some other perspectives.

    At the same time, i don't care so much for esposito (although sometimes he does come up with good material/insights)- so i wonder if he would know (he of-course might).

    The other question i had was the distinction between "mainstream" and "radical." Am not sure if these are your words, or from the findings/report. And I'm assuming the word "radical" is used in a negative sense. But both Hamas and Hizb. are very much mainstream (in a positive sense) Islamic movements. Both are integrated and indigenous to the populations that they work in...

    The difference between, specifically, these two movements, and, say many of the ones in Pakistan - is that they, Hizb. and Hamas, have remained very connected to their respective communities. The major/mainstream groups (not all) in Pakistan have been so involved in the so-called "democratic process" - that is so incredibly corrupt - that they have ended up losing touch. (not that these groups were in touch to begin with).

    There are newer groups in the past 5-10 years that have come up - and they have now begun to adopt some aspects of the model of community based services. This is esp. true within some of the poor Shia communities of Pakistan. Now, I would imagine that these newer and more grassroots groups would be considered "radical" because they chose not to work within a very corrupt "democratic" system. This is not to say they are opposed to voting, local control of resources etc. - rather they would not make deals/work with someone like the military dictatorship of Mu(bu)sharraf. In that respect, these "radical" groups are more democratic than the "mainstream" ones.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/23/2006 09:41:00 AM  

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