New BBC Poll Finds Significant Middle Ground between Islam and The West

Posted on February 19, 2007

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VIEWS OF RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MUSLIM AND WESTERN CULTURES

Can find common ground Violent conflict inevitable
France 69% 23%
Germany 49% 39%
Great Britain 77% 15%
India 35% 24%
Indonesia 40% 51%
Italy 78% 14%
Kenya 46% 35%
Lebanon 68% 26%
Nigeria 53% 37%
Turkey 49% 29%
US 64% 31%

By Roger Hardy
BBC Islamic affairs analyst

A new BBC poll taken by Globescan suggests there is a significant middle ground which rejects the view that Islam and the West are doomed to clash.

The survey of over 28,000 respondents across 27 countries was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated the fieldwork between November 2006 and January 2007.

“Most people around the world clearly reject the idea that Islam and the West are caught in an inevitable clash of civilizations,” said Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.

Doug Miller, president of GlobeScan, added: “Perhaps the strongest finding is that so many people across the world blame intolerant minorities on both sides for the tensions between Islam and the West.”

Asked whether “violent conflict is inevitable” between Muslim and Western cultures or whether “it is possible to find common ground,” an average of 56 percent say that common ground can be found between the two cultures, which is the most common response in 25 countries. On average almost three in ten (28%) think violent conflict is inevitable; Indonesia is the only country where this view predominates, while views are divided in the Philippines.

The belief that it is possible to find common ground between Islam and the West rises with education from 46 percent among those with no formal education to 64 percent among those with post secondary education.

The minority of people who believe that tensions between Islam and the West arise from differences of religion and culture are much more likely to believe that violent conflict is inevitable compared to those who think the problem derives from issues of political power or intolerant minorities.

Muslims will welcome the finding that tensions are the result of conflicts over political power and interests, rather than differences of religion or culture. They often argue that Muslim radicalism is the product of global inequalities of wealth and power – and Western foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine and elsewhere.

The large Muslim minorities now living in the West also argue they are the victims of social disadvantage and “Islamophobic” prejudice.  [more]

Please click here to read the whole article from the BBC.  For a more complete summary of all the findings, please go to this link:   http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/home_page/317.php?nid=&id=&pnt=317&lb=hmpg1. It has an article describing the findings, along with the country breakouts.

To view the complete report of the BBC Poll in pdf format (1 megabyte long), please click here.

Additional information: In total 28,389 citizens in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United States were interviewed between 3 November 2006 and 16 January 2007. Polling was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In 10 of the 27 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/-2.5 to 4 percent. For more details, please see the Methodology section or visit www.globescan.com or www.pipa.org. 

For media interviews with the participating pollsters, please contact:

  • Doug Miller, PresidentGlobeScan Incorporated, London +44 20 7958 1735 (Mobile: +44 78 999 77 000) Doug.Miller@GlobeScan.com 
  • Melinda Brouwer, Communications Assistant Program on International Policy Attitudes, Washington +1 202 232 7500 (Mobile: +1 202 375 8114) mbrouwer@pipa.org
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