Arab attitudes on US, UK, France, terrorism

The Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan has recently come out with an intriguing report on the attitudes of people in five key Arab societies (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria) toward, respectively, the US, the UK, and France.

Here is an 89-page PDF file of the findings and here is the 8-page “Executive summary”.

The surveys were conducted between March and June 2004 on four samples in each of the five Mashreq countries:

    1. A representative national sample of 1200 respondents

    2. A university students sample of 500 respondents

    3. A business sample of 120 respondents

    4. A media sample of 120 respondents

It is worth noting that the (apparently fairly lengthy) interviews in question were conducted between June and March of 2004. For Lebanon and Syria it is significant that that period was before the emergence of the whole issue about resolution 1559. For all the countries, it’s significant that that period included the time when the Abu Ghraib abuses were coming prominently into the public domain.

I wish the people at CSS could have pulled that data together faster and gotten it out a lot earlier– also, that they could now be presenting us with more recent data than this.

(On the other hand, I’m so behind with writing my Africa book that I am in no position at all to “throw stones” on this issue of the speed of presenting one’s findings… )

I was really enjoying reading the detail in the long version of the report. For example (p.40) seeing the figures on the percentage of people in each of those countries who are unable to name any non-political personalities in each of the western countries. And there is a wealth of further detail in there, too.

However, the short version gives this summary of the findings of the survey:

    The study draws seven conclusions:

    1) Arabs hold coherent notions of what constitute the values of Western and Arab
    societies. They associate the West with individual liberty and wealth, while they
    view themselves as emphasizing religion and family.

    2) Arab perceptions of Western societal and cultural values do not determine their
    attitudes toward Western foreign policies.

    3) Religion is not the basis of tension between Arabs and the West.

    4) The Arab world does not reject the professed goals of the West

4 thoughts on “Arab attitudes on US, UK, France, terrorism”

  1. Thank you for posting this information. The poll results are identical to the results of past surveys regarding Arab attitudes towards the US. Arabs dislike the US for what it does.
    The varying views on terrorism/”terrorism” among the people of different Arab countries are fascinating. How does King Abdullah hang onto his throne when Jordanians are so hostile towards the US?
    Also noteworthy is the fact that Syria is the country least sympathetic towards Al-Qaeda – probably a legacy of past Sunni terrorism in Syria. Of course, there’s always the possibility in Syria that responses were affected by how the government views an issue. The survey doesn’t discuss that issue or go into detail about how the poll was actually conducted, other than it was via questionnaire.

  2. To me, the three most interesting things about the figures there are […] the high proportion of respondents in all countries labeling anti-property actions taken by Israel as “terrorist”
    Especially, perhaps, when combined with the view that attacks on Israeli civilians within Israel’s internationally recognized boundaries aren’t terrorist acts? Even assuming minimum overlap, it seems that at least 50 percent of the respondents in each country (other than Lebanon) regard Palestinian property but not Israeli life as worth preserving, which in a nutshell is a great deal of the problem. Granted, there are also serious problems with the Israeli consensus worldview – I’d be the last to deny that – but this poll reveals a twisted conception of terrorism.

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