Most Pakistanis Reject Terrorism
By Khalid Hasan

Washington, DC: A new survey has shown that 86 percent of Pakistanis believe that terrorist attacks on civilians are never justified, while only 46 percent of Americans hold the same view.
The survey conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland in the US and four Muslim countries - Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nigeria - showed 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreeing that terrorist attacks were “never justified”, compared with 81 percent in Bangladesh. As many as 24 percent of Americans said that such attacks were “sometimes justified”.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, public opinion surveys in the United States and Europe show that nearly half of Westerners associate Islam with violence and Muslims with terrorism. Given the many radicals who commit violence in the name of Islam around the world, that’s an understandable polling result. But these stereotypes, affirmed by simplistic media coverage and many radicals themselves, are not supported by the facts - and they are detrimental to the ‘war on terror’. When the West wrongly attributes radical views to all of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, it perpetuates a myth that has the very real effect of marginalizing critical allies in the ‘war on terror’. Indeed, the far-too-frequent stereotyping of Muslims serves only to reinforce the radical appeal of the small minority of Muslims who peddle hatred of the West and others as authentic religious practice.
Terror Free Tomorrow, which has carried out more than 20 surveys in Muslim countries in the past two years, has come up with the surprising finding that even among the minority, which indicated support for terrorist attacks and Osama Bin Laden, most overwhelmingly approved of specific American actions in their own countries. For instance, 71 percent of Bin Laden supporters in Indonesia and 79 percent in Pakistan said they thought more favorably of the United States as a result of American humanitarian assistance in their countries. The survey said that for most people, their professed support of terrorism/Bin Laden could be more accurately characterized as a kind of “protest vote” against current US foreign policies, not as a deeply held religious conviction or even an inherently anti-American or anti-Western view.
According to the survey, “In truth, the common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews. Whether recruits to violent causes join gangs in Los Angeles or terrorist cells in Lahore, the enemy is the violence they exalt. America’s goal, in partnership with Muslim public opinion, should be to defeat terrorists by isolating them from their own societies. The most effective policies to achieve that goal are the ones that build on our common humanity. And we can start by recognizing that Muslims throughout the world want peace as much as Americans do.” (Courtesy Daily Times)

 

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