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A Correction and a Paradox

Reader comment on item: [Pew Poll on] How Muslims Think

Submitted by Jalopy Driver (United States), Jun 27, 2006 at 12:30

Pipes reports: "All the Muslim populations polled display a solid majority of support for Osama bin Laden." Page 25 of the Pew report indicates that Nigeria is the only country where this is so. If we weigh all the countries by population, about 1/4 to 1/3 of those polled have confidence in Bin Laden. It may be apalling that 26 of Egyptian Muslims or 14% of Egyptian Mustlims support the fellow, but these are not majorities.

The poll asked about support for suicide bombings of civilians. Islam prohibits suicide. MIght the answers have been different if the pollster asked about support for "martyrdom bombings"?

Many Muslims declined to link 9/11 to Arabs, whether by answering no or refusing to answer. Might some of the rejection owe to a refusal to assign collective guilt to Arabs in general? Might the Muslims' acknowledgement have been greater if the question instead referred to "a small group of deranged Saudis and Egyptians"? Meanwhile, if some Americans believe Saddam or Iraqis caused 9/11, do they qualify as lucid?

The poll does not break out the portion of responses where a person did not have confidence in Bin Laden but may still support al Qaeda or think most Muslims do. Could there also be respondents who deny Arab involvement in 9/11 but support suicide bombings and al Qaeda? The most benign group might be those who prefer to disbelieve Arab involvement in 9/11 but who also reject al Qaeda.

The alienation of UK Muslims may have less to to with social policy than with misgivings over Britain's role in Iraq. Evidently, not many non Muslim subjects are pleased with that role either.

Extremist movements often get digit support in almost any society. They become a problem only when the activists become girdled or blended into a double-digit element of passive sympathizers.

The poll reveals serious misunderstandings and differences between religious groups. Too bad that some of the questions are framed in a way that may distort or lead to abuse of the findings.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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