09/19/2008, 00.00
ISLAM
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Muslim support for Bin Laden and suicide bombers falls, but remains high

A survey shows that agreement with the reasons for terrorism has diminished everywhere.The lowest level of agreement is in Turkey (3%), but there are countries like Lebanon, Nigeria, and Jordan where suicide bombers have the support of one third or one fourth of Muslims.

Washington (AsiaNews) - There has been a significant drop in support from the Muslim world for suicide attacks "in defense of Islam", but there nevertheless remains a disquieting percentage of people who continue to express their support for terrorism. This is the result of a study carried out by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center, which surveyed the opinions of 24,000 people, 8,000 of them in eight Muslim countries.

The percentages say that the lowest level of support for suicide attackers and Bin Laden is in Turkey: only 3% of Turks agree with these, a 10-point drop compared to 2002, when a similar survey was last carried out.

In Lebanon, those who maintain that suicide attacks are "always" or "sometimes" justifiable in defense of Islam were 74%; now they are 42% fewer, but still over 30%. This means that one third of Lebanese Muslims are still in favor of suicide bombers. The percentage is similar in Nigeria, the most populous African country, where solidarity with the terrorists is found among one third of the population, although it has dropped by 15%. It's a little better in Jordan, where support for suicide attacks is favored by 25% of the people, a drop of 18 points.

But there has also been a serious loss of support for terrorists in Pakistan, where just 5% of Muslims share the motivations of the suicide bombers, compared to 28% before. In Egypt, which was not included in the survey in 2002, 5% express sympathy toward suicide attacks. That's about half of the percentage in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, where about 10% of Muslims express solidarity with suicide bombers. But here as well, in 2002 the number was 15 percentage points higher.

Support for Bin Laden has also fallen, although it remains high in some countries. In Nigeria, 60% say they support the head of Al Qaeda, and in Indonesia and Pakistan about one third of Muslims say they do. But previously, these were respectively 60% and almost 50%.

Turkey and Lebanon show the lowest levels of support for the sheikh of terror, 2% of Lebanese and 3% of Turks. Here, too, it is a significant reduction: previously, these were 5% and 20% respectively. It is in Jordan, instead, where Bin Laden has lost most support: from 60% to 19%. So significantly fewer, but still about one fifth of the population.

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