Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hearing addresses question: Do negative views of U.S. policy bolster support of extremism in Muslim countries?

Thursday, in a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, Dr. Steven Kull, the director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), testified on the connection between anti-U.S. policy, attitudes and extremism. Through surveys and focus groups in Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco and Pakistan, Kull assessed responses concerning U.S. policy, attitudes and terrorism to test the hypothesis that negative feelings toward the U.S. drive Muslims into the arms of extremist groups such as al-Qaeda.

The results were insightful and contrary to much of the political rhetoric involved with discussions of extremism within Muslim countries. Kull found that the majority of respondents in Egypt (93 percent), Indonesia (66 percent), Morocco (76 percent) and Pakistan (67 percent) had unfavorable views of the current U.S. government, however, only 1 in 7 respondents agreed with the methods and views of al-Qaeda. When asked why anti-U.S. attitudes exist, many pointed to their sheer disappointment with the policy and actions of the current U.S. government, as well as to hypocrisy related to the Middle East, particularly with regards to the America’s handling of the occupation in the Palestinian Territories. Kull also pointed out that a majority of the respondents in the four countries believed that there was common ground by which to establish peace and collaboration with the U.S.

Kull posited advice for future policy decisions by noting that “when the U.S. acts on its own initiative, without multilateral approval, these public feelings are also apt to be highly focused at the U.S. itself.” In closing, Kull added that the best course of action for America should be “to provide reassurance through credible evidence that the U.S. has not targeted Islam itself.’

For information on this hearing, click here.

For detailed data concerning the in-depth surveys conducted by Dr. Kull, click here.

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