Bin Laden had little, and falling, Muslim support before his death

By agency reporter
May 3, 2011

In the months leading up to the killing of Osama bin Laden, a survey of Muslim publics around the world found little support for the al-Qaida leader.

That is the conclusion offered from an analysis of views from six predominantly Muslim nations recently surveyed by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project.

The results indicate that bin Laden received his highest level of support among Muslims in the Palestinian territories – although even there only 34 per cent said they had confidence in him to do the right thing in world affairs.

Minorities of Muslims in Indonesia (26 per cent), Egypt (22 per cent) and Jordan (13 per cent) expressed confidence in bin Laden, while he had almost no support among Turkish (three per cent) or Lebanese Muslims (one per cent).

Over time, support for bin Laden has dropped sharply among Muslim publics, says Pew.

Since 2003, the percentage of Muslims voicing confidence in him has declined by 38 points in the Palestinian territories and 33 points in Indonesia.

The greatest decline has occurred in Jordan, where 56 per cent of Muslims had confidence in bin Laden in 2003, compared with just 13 per cent in the current poll. Jordanian support for bin Laden fell dramatically (to 24 per cent from 61 per cent the year before) in 2006, following suicide attacks in Amman by al-Qaida.

In Pakistan, where 2011 data is still not available, confidence in bin Laden fell from 52 per cent in 2005 to just 18 per cent in the 2010 Pew Research Center survey.

Al-Qaida also received largely negative ratings among Muslim publics in the 2011 survey. Only two per cent of Muslims in Lebanon and five per cent in Turkey expressed favourable views of al-Qaeda.

In Jordan, 15 per cent had a positive opinion of al-Qaida, while about one-in-five in Indonesia (22 per cent) and Egypt (21 per cent) shared this view. Palestinian Muslims offered somewhat more positive opinions (28 per cent favourable), but about two-thirds (68 per cent) viewed bin Laden’s organisation unfavourably.

Ratings of al-Qaida are, for the most part, unchanged, says Pew - except in Jordan, where the organisation’s favourable rating fell from 34 per cent in 2010 to 15 per cent currently.

As was the case with views of bin Laden, Nigerian Muslims typically offered more positive views of al-Qaida than any other Muslim public surveyed.

The tabular results are on the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project website, and the material remains their copyright:


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