| ||A survey by the Pew Research Center, published last Friday, reveals that almost ten years after the 9/11 attacks and five years since the last survey, there is a continuation of tensions between the West and majority-Muslim nations. |
Both hold general negative stereotypes of the other, although more western publics now see relations between themselves and Muslims as ‘generally good’ compared with 2006. There is, however, agreement and improvement on some issues, such as concerns about ‘Islamic extremism, a consensus on the issue of corrupt governments and the lack of education as a major cause of low prosperity in some Muslim nations.
Some of the key findings of the report include:
• In four of the six largely Christian nations included in the study, most say they have a positive opinion of Muslims. The exceptions are Germany (45% favorable) and Spain (37%), although views toward Muslims have improved in both countries since 2006.
• Solid majorities in Western countries have a favorable opinion of Jews.
• Muslims associate a number of negative traits with Westerners. Across the Muslim publics surveyed, the median percentages saying people in Western countries such as the U.S. and Europe are selfish, violent, greedy, immoral, arrogant and fanatical exceed 50%. By contrast, the median percentages of those who say that Westerners are respectful of women, honest, tolerant or generous range below 50%.
• Non-Muslims in Western Europe, the U.S. and Russia offer somewhat more positive assessments of Muslims than Muslims do of Westerners. Relatively few, for example, say Muslims are greedy or immoral. However, a median of 58% label Muslims as fanatical and a median of 50% believe Muslims are violent. Few think Muslims are respectful of women.
• There is a widespread perception that Muslims living in the West do not want to integrate. Majorities in Europe and the U.S. think Muslims wish to remain distinct from the rest of society, instead of embracing the way of life in Western nations.
• In Western nations, those who believe some religions are more prone to violence than others tend to say Islam is the most violent faith (when asked to choose among Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism). Muslim publics who think some religions are especially prone to violence tend to name Judaism.
In June 2009 Barack Obama made a speech at Cairo University addressing the Muslim world. In it, he referred to the “time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world.
“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
It seems, two years on from his speech, that there continues to be a lack of dialogue and understanding between Muslim countries and the non-Muslim West.
Read the report in full here.
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