Professor Bassiouni, call your office! Muslims are Misunderstanding Islam in huge numbers!
The Pew researchers are happy that the Pakistanis are worried about “extremism,” but given their attitudes toward traditional Islamic laws regarding apostasy, stoning, and more, it is clear that the Pakistanis surveyed have a very different idea of what constitutes “extremism” from what the Pew folks probably have in mind.
“Pakistani Public Opinion: Growing Concerns about Extremism, Continuing Discontent with U.S.,” from the Pew Global Attitudes Project, August 13 (thanks to all who sent this in):
[…] A long-standing concern about Islamic extremism has grown even greater over the past year. No fewer than 69% of the Pakistanis questioned worry that extremists could take control of the country. At the same time, indifference and mixed opinions about both al Qaeda and the Taliban have given way to a strong condemnation of both groups. In 2008, just 33% held a negative view of the Taliban; today, 70% rate it unfavorably. Similarly, the percentage of Pakistanis with an unfavorable opinion of al Qaeda has jumped from 34% to 61% in the last year.
However, growing concern about Islamic extremism has not resulted in an improved view of the United States. Opinions of America and its people remain extremely negative. Barack Obama’s global popularity is not evident in Pakistan, and America’s image remains as tarnished in that country as it was in the Bush years. Only 22% of Pakistanis think the U.S. takes their interests into account when making foreign policy decisions, essentially unchanged from 21% since 2007. Fully 64% of the public regards the U.S. as an enemy, while only 9% describe it as a partner.
Further, many express serious concerns about the U.S.-led effort to combat terrorism, both globally and in Pakistan specifically. In particular, many who are aware of the drone strikes targeting extremist leaders believe these strikes are causing too many civilian deaths and are being carried out by the U.S. without the consent of the Pakistani government….
Long-running concerns about India are also reflected in the poll. The dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir is cited as a major problem facing the country by no fewer than 88%. And growing worries about extremism notwithstanding, more Pakistanis judge India as a very serious threat to the nation (69%) than regard the Taliban (57%) or al Qaeda (41%) as very serious threats. Most Pakistanis see the U.S. as on the wrong side of this issue: by a margin of 54% to 4% the U.S. is seen as favoring India over Pakistan….
One of the ironies in the survey is the extent to which Pakistanis embrace some of the severe laws associated with the Taliban and al Qaeda, even as they reject Islamic extremism and these extremist groups. The new poll finds broad support for harsh punishments: 78% favor death for those who leave Islam; 80% favor whippings and cutting off hands for crimes like theft and robbery; and 83% favor stoning adulterers.
Pakistani public opinion departs significantly from the Taliban on the issues of girls’ education and extremist violence. As many as 87% of Pakistanis believe it is equally important for boys and girls to be educated. The poll also finds that support for suicide bombing that targets civilians in defense of Islam remains very low. Only 5% of Pakistani Muslims believe these kinds of attacks can often or sometimes be justified; as recently as 2004 roughly four-in-ten (41%) held this view. Fully 87% now say such attacks can never be justified — the highest percentage among the Muslim publics included in the 2009 survey….