Most Muslim nations immune to Obamamania, says survey

August 1st, 2009 - 12:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 1 (IANS) Obamamania may still be sweeping the world but not most Muslim nations, says a survey by the Pew Research Center here.
Called the Global Attitudes Project, the survey of 24 countries and the Palestinian territories shows that the Muslim world remains largely immune to Obamamania, said Richard Wike, associate director of the study, in an article for CBS News Friday.

Thanks to the new president, America’s image is on the rebound throughout much of the world, with more than nine-in-ten in France and Germany reposing faith in Obama’s leadership, he said.

Because of Obama, ratings for the US itself are up dramatically, with sizeable increases in Latin America, Africa and much of Asia, Wike wrote.

However, when it comes to Muslim nations, America’s overall image remains unchanged, though Obama is viewed more positively there than George Bush.

In Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and the Palestinian territories, fewer than 30 percent of the people have a positive view of America, according to the survey.

In Egypt and Jordan there has been a slight rise in favourable views about the US since 2008. But in Pakistan, Turkey and the Palestinian territories, America continues to be viewed as negatively as in the final years of the presidency of George Bush whose wars in Iraq and Afghanistan antagonised Muslim nations.

“Although a new team is now in the White House, much of the distrust persists. For example, the 2009 poll finds that in predominantly Muslim nations, there is generally little support for US-led anti-terrorism efforts,” said Wike.

According to the survey, the American disapproval ratings are as high as 64 percent in Pakistan and 77 percent in the Palestinian territories.

Majorities in six of the seven Muslim nations surveyed feel the US is a military threat to their country.

Though respondents in most countries thought Obama will take a multilateral approach to foreign policy and be fair in his dealings with the Israelis and Palestinians, Muslim nations thought otherwise.

In the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon, more than six-in-ten doubted whether Obama will be fair on the Middle East issues, according to the survey.

However, the US ratings are up to 61 percent among Muslims in Nigeria in Africa — the continent where Obama’s Kenyan Muslim father came from — and 63 percent in Indonesia where Obama spent many years as a child.

While Indonesia is the world’s biggest Muslim nation, Muslims constitute 50 percent of the Nigerian population.

But what was surprising was a 90 percent approval rating for the US among Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims as against just two percent among Lebanese Shias who are aligned with Shiite Iran and Syria.

The survey said Obama’s election may not have brought about a sea change in Muslim attitudes towards the US, but he may be laying the groundwork for improvement.

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