I noted in my column today, "Palestinians Taste a Dose of Their Own Medicine," that being on the receiving end of Islamist suicide bombings has prompted small signs of a shift in views, "at least momentarily in Jordan." I could only cite one piece of proto survey research, about a change in attitude toward Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Here is some more evidence along those lines.
First, an Associated Press article from Nov. 10:
For more than five years, Palestinian militants have carried out dozens of suicide bombings in Israel, killing hundreds of people, often with wide support from a public that believed the attacks were a justified response to Israeli military rule. But the mood has changed in recent months following a cease-fire with Israel, and the attacks in Amman could further sway public opinion against suicide bombings.
"Palestinians have tasted the blind violence that does not differentiate between people - children, women, wedding parties, ordinary people," said Palestinian newspaper commentator Hani al-Masri. "I expect now a significant change in the Palestinian political culture," he said. "For sure, this attack will push Palestinians to reconsider this way of suicide bombings, and I think it would reduce support for attacks that kill people without any differentiation."
But the same article notes that Palestinians still have a ways to go:
many Palestinians seemed most upset that the victims in Amman were Muslim. Some hinted that attacks against Israeli or American targets could still be acceptable. At a small mosque in Gaza City, worshippers asked God to send the souls of the Amman victims to heaven and to prevent the attackers from harming the image of Islam. "I oppose killing Jewish civilians," said Radwan Abu Ali, a 22-year-old university student in Gaza City. "They could go and fight American soldiers. They could come to Palestine to fight Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. But to kill innocents, there is nothing to describe them but criminals and the enemy of God."
Then an Associated Press piece from Nov. 14:
amid a spiraling of violence in neighboring Iraq and numerous foiled terror plots here in Jordan before Wednesday's strikes, views toward terrorism have started to change. Most of those killed in the triple hotel bombings were Arabs and Muslims - and the targets included a Jordanian-Palestinian wedding reception.
TV talk shows and newspaper columnists have been focusing on the suicide attacks and whether Muslims should condone them in part or total. "There has (long) been empathy among Jordanians for insurgent strikes against military targets in Iraq, particularly against U.S. forces," said Mustafa Hamarneh, a researcher who has conducted surveys on domestic attitudes toward suicide bombings. "I believe we will now begin to see a change in how the country's press reports events in Iraq, such as suicide bombings and in public attitudes," he said.
A July survey from the Washington-based Pew Research Center even found support in Jordan for suicide bombings against Americans and their allies in Iraq dropped from 70 percent to 49 percent since March 2004. Last week's bombings are likely to erode al-Zarqawi's support even more, some analysts say. "It's a public relations disaster for al-Zarqawi and his militants," said M.J. Gohel, the director of the London-based Asia Pacific Foundation, a think tank that tracks militant groups. "They murdered Muslims in cold blood."
That said, this article also goes on to caution that many in Jordan still support terrorism in Iraq and against Israelis.
And then an Associated Press analysis from today finds that "Contributors to Islamic Web sites known for enthusiastically supporting al-Qaida have reacted angrily and with unprecedented criticism to last week's hotel bombings in Jordan," and provides plenty of quotations. (November 15, 2005)
Nov. 17, 2005 update: The New York Times reports that
There is no doubt that Mr. Zarqawi, and the Qaeda network in general, have lost support among Jordanians. A recent poll in the newspaper Al Ghad reported that 86 percent of respondents condemned Al Qaeda. But the change in opinion is not necessarily resolute. "I personally used to support them before, like any other Arab citizen, at least emotionally," Fady al-Moumani, 27, a computer engineer, said as he played chess in a downtown cafe. "But after the Amman bombings, I am starting to question." …
Officials said they hoped this marked a turning point in Jordan, and throughout the Muslim world, where the so-called silent majority would rise up against Islamic extremism. Polls fueled the optimism. But King Abdullah II said in an interview on Tuesday that he expected it would take years to overcome the extremist ideology that has infiltrated Islamic societies.
The New York Sun provides details on that poll:
The significance of triple bombings of November 9 in Amman is that they may emerge as the event that starts the tide turning in civilization's favor. An opinion poll conducted by elGhad newspaper in Jordan on Saturday provides a glimpse of the story. When the Hashemite Kingdom's subjects were asked, "In your opinion what is the primary motivation behind last Wednesday's attacks?" the response was extraordinary: 0.9% of those surveyed said the attacks were in the interest of the "Arab cause," whereas nearly everyone else said it was either to "target Jordan" or "kill innocent people."
When asked, "What is your opinion of al-Qaeda now?" 78.2% of the respondents chose "very negative," while 12.8% chose " somewhat negative." Only 5.4% of those asked answered very or somewhat positive.When asked whether "al-Qaeda's practices are in accordance with Islam?" a full 86.4% of Jordanians believe the answer is an unqualified no, with another 7.4% saying "no to a certain extent."
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