Following the 9/11 attacks, President Bush claimed that Muslims hate America for its freedoms. Since then, 50,000 Muslims in 35 countries were surveyed by Gallup, the largest poll of Muslims ever. The results represent over 6 years of study and are outlined in a new book by Dalia Mogahed and John L. Esposito entitled “Who Speaks For Islam? What A Billion Muslims Really Think”. The survey was based on face-to-face, hour-long interviews. I’m really looking forward to reading it, especially having read a great deal of Esposito’s literature, but here are some of the preliminary findings I found interesting, as outlined in an op-ed and a BBC article:
– It showed that Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustifiable.
– Those who do choose violence and extremism are driven by politics, not poverty or piety.
– Of the 7 percent of respondents who did believe that 9/11 was justified, none of them hated our freedom; they want our freedom. But they believe that America — and the western world in general — operate with a double standard and stand in the way of Muslims determining their own future.
– The vast majority of young Muslims aren’t dreaming of going to war; they are dreaming of finding work. When asked about their hopes for the future, Muslims of all ages said they want better jobs and security, not conflict and violence.
– Muslims want self-determination, but not an American-imposed and defined democracy. They don’t want secularism or theocracy.
– What the majority wants is democracy with religious values.
– The radicals are better educated, have better jobs, and are more hopeful with regard to the future than mainstream Muslims. But they’re more cynical about whether they’ll ever get it.
– 9 out of 10 Muslims are moderates
– Muslims say the most important thing Westerners can do to improve relations with their societies is to change their negative views toward Muslims, respect Islam and re-evaluate their foreign policies.