03/04/2009, 00.00
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Islamic countries reject al Qaeda, but also American policy

A survey has been published by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, on the occasion of Secretary Clinton's visit to the West Bank. Approval of Osama bin Laden is down; attacks against civilians are rejected, and American policy is seen as being too close to Israel.

Beit Sahour (AsiaNews) - A survey conducted on Muslim majority countries demonstrates that support for the terrorism of al Qaeda and attacks on civilians is low, but there is still significant support for the aims of al Qaeda, like the revival of Islam and opposition to American policy in the Middle East.

The survey was carried out through direct interviews of more than 6,000 people in Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Turkey, and Morocco.

It was conducted between July and September of 2008 by WorldPublicOpinion.org, in collaboration with the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, which published the results today, on the occasion of Hillary Clinton's visit to the West Bank (today) and Israel (concluded yesterday).

The results demonstrate that a very large majority, between 67 and 89%, condemn the use of bombs and killing for political and religious purposes; more than 70% are against attacks on civilians (specifically Americans).

At the same time, a large majority supports al Qaeda's goal to "push the US to remove its bases and its military forces from all Islamic countries." These include 87% of Egyptians; 64% of Indonesians; 60% of Pakistanis.

Other al Qaeda goals also have wide approval. Among these, "strict application of Shari'a Law in every Islamic country, and in the long run to unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate" received the support of 65% of Egyptians; 40% of Indonesians; and 76% of Pakistanis and Moroccans. "To keep Western values out of Islamic countries," one of the other goals of the terrorist organization, received support of 80% in Egypt; 76% in Indonesia; 60% in Pakistan; and 64% in Morocco.

The figure of Osama bin Laden has a controversial following. If Egypt (44%) and the Palestinian Territories (56%) are left out, the "positive feelings" toward him come to 14% in Indonesia; 25% in Pakistan; 27% in Morocco; 27% in Jordan; 9% in Turkey; 4% in Azerbaijan.

The "negative feelings" toward the head of al Qaeda are distributed as follows: 17% in Egypt; 20% in the Palestinian Territories; 26% in Indonesia; 15% in Pakistan; 21% in Morocco; 20% in Jordan; 68% in Turkey; 82% in Azerbaijan.

Finally, concerning the American position on the Israeli-Palestinian question, the results are very unusual: a large majority maintains that U.S. policy favors the expansion of Israel. Among these are Egypt (86%); Indonesia (47%); Pakistan (52%); Morocco (64%); Turkey (78%); Azerbaijian (43%). In the Palestinian Territories, the figure reaches 90%, and 84% in Jordan.

And yet, to the question of whether the U.S. intends to create an independent and economically viable Palestinian state, Palestinians voted "yes" by 59%. Of the others, only about 30% agreed.

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