National Review Online asked a group of experts: "On Tuesday, Pew released a poll indicating that support for suicide bombings is on the decline in the Muslim world, among other things. How encouraging is this poll? What can we do — as a government, as private entities — to use the information constructively?" For all replies, see "Suicide Reversal?"
It is good news if Muslim support for suicide bombings is indeed declining. But it need not have much to do, as the poll takers theorize, with improved personal circumstances. Two other factors likely have more importance.
First, as Muslims themselves (in such countries as Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, and Pakistan) become the victims of suicide bombings, they increasingly reject this tactic. The Pew Global Attitudes Project itself noted in June 2006 that this "shift has been especially dramatic in Jordan, likely in response to the devastating terrorist attack in Amman last year; 29 percent of Jordanians view suicide attacks as often or sometimes justified, down from 57 percent in May 2005."
Second, Muslims appear growingly aware that the terroristic ways of Osama bin Laden offer a less successful path to realizing the Islamist goals of imposing the Shari'a and creating a caliphate do than the political, lawful ways of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey's newly-triumphantly reelected prime minister. Whereas terrorism stimulates its own antibodies and offers no plausible path to power, working through the system is proving successful in such diverse places as Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Iraq, and Bangladesh, as well as in the West.
Therefore, this survey has more subtle and ambiguous implications than first appear. (July 26, 2007)