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Most Pakistanis fear extremism and dislike Taliban, survey says

Publication Date : 02-07-2014


In Pakistan 66 per cent people see religious extremism as a serious threat to their country, says a new survey released by a United States think-tank.

The survey, by the Pew Research Centre, Washington, shows that bouts of violence, suicide bombings and fears of civil war in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa have increased concerns about religious extremism in countries with substantial Muslim populations.

The survey, conducted in spring 2014, shows that there are still 24 per cent of people in Pakistan who do not see extremism as a serious threat.

But when it comes to the Taliban, most among these 24 per cent also want to stay away from them.

Almost 60 per cent of the population in Pakistan sees the Taliban unfavourably.

Only 8 per cent have a favourable view of this extremist organisation.

Given the violent nature of this group, which practices targeted killings for assassinating its opponents, a third of Pakistanis are reluctant to offer an opinion.

Views of the Taliban have not changed substantially in recent years.

Opinions towards specific branches of the Taliban, such as Tehreek-i-Taliban and the Afghan Taliban, are also negative.

In a spring 2013 survey, both those groups received low ratings in Pakistan — 56 per cent unfavourable and 47 per cent unfavourable, respectively.

And in the Middle East, concern about extremism is growing. Lebanese, Tunisians, Egyptians, Jordanians and Turks are all more worried about the extremist threat than they were a year ago.

Hezbollah, the militant organisation headquartered in Lebanon, is seen unfavourably in every country surveyed.

In Pakistan, 8 per cent like it, 12 per cent dislike it and 81 per cent have no opinion.

Overall, most people surveyed also have an unfavourable impression of Hamas, a militant Palestinian organisation based in the Gaza Strip.

In Pakistan, 8 per cent like it, 12 per cent dislike it and 79 per cent offer no opinion.

In Lebanon, 88 per cent of Sunnis and 69 per cent of Lebanese Christians dislike Hezbollah.

However, 86 per cent of Lebanese Shias have a favourable view.

More than half in the Palestinian territories — 53 per cent — have an unfavourable view of Hamas, with only about a third — 35 per cent— expressing positive views.

Most people hold very negative opinions of well-known extremist groups, such as Al Qaeda.

In Nigeria, the vast majority of respondents, both Muslims and Christians, have an unfavourable view of Boko Haram, the terrorist group that recently kidnapped hundreds of girls in the restive north of the country.

Few Muslims in most of the countries surveyed say that suicide bombing can often or sometimes be justified against civilian targets in order to defend Islam from its enemies.

And support for the tactic has fallen in many countries over the last decade.

Still, in some countries a substantial minority says that suicide bombing can be justified.

Asked if suicide bombing can be justified against civilian targets in order to defend Islam against its enemies, 83 per cent in Pakistan replied: “Never”. Four per cent said: “Rarely”. Two per cent said: “Sometimes”. And one pc said: “Often”. Eleven per cent offered no opinion.

Still, significant minorities of Muslims in a few countries do hold the view that it can be justified.

In the Middle East, support for suicide bombing is highest in the Palestinian territories, where 46 per cent of Muslims say that it is often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam.

Support is particularly high among Muslims in Gaza (62 per cent) versus those in the West Bank (36 per cent).

In Lebanon, 29 per cent of Muslims say targeting civilians is justified. This includes 37 per cent of Shias but only 21 per cent among Sunnis.

Meanwhile, a quarter or less of Muslims in Egypt (24 per cent), Turkey (18 per cent), Israel (16 per cent) and Jordan (15 per cent) say suicide bombing is often or sometimes justified.

Among Tunisian Muslims, only 5 per cent say this.

Nearly half of Bangladeshi Muslims (47 per cent) believe suicide bombing can be justified.


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