...indicates reason for concern, I think.
Yes, Tony Blankley is a conservative, but no, it has no particular bearing on this piece.
A Rising Tide of Fury
By Tony Blankley
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Whenever I refer to the threat of radical Islam, I am inundated with e-mails chastising me for unjustified alarmism (that is the polite description of the missives). This week, even the esteemed and often accurate British Economist accused me, by name, of overestimating the threat and being alarmist on the topic.
Not only do I hope they are right, but I regularly monitor the news for evidence of my error; for I have long taken to heart and applied to myself the advice that Oliver Cromwell gave to the Scottish Presbyterians: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."
Nonetheless, while Muslim attitudes across the world are dynamic, and subtle inflections of thought are not easily captured by polling, the news continues to be not encouraging.
Last week, the respected University of Maryland Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), released its most recent survey of Muslim attitudes on America, terrorism and related topics. They surveyed attitudes in four representative Muslim countries: Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia and Morocco.
On the question of America's influence in the world, from a low of 60 percent in Indonesia to a high of 89 percent in Egypt, they answered that most or nearly all of what happens in the world is controlled by the United States. And how do the world's Muslims see (what they believe to be) our all-powerful objectives?
From a low of 73 percent in Indonesia to a high of 92 percent in Egypt the Muslims believe that America's goal is "to weaken and divide the Islamic world." Fairly assuming that these four countries' populations represent worldwide Muslim views in Islamic countries, in other words, about 80 percent of the 1.4 billion Muslims or about a billion souls see America as hostile or an enemy to Islam.
Between 61 percent and 67 percent of the polled Muslims also thought that America's goal was to spread Christianity in the Middle East. Given that Islam teaches that Muslim converts to other religions must be executed, this purported American objective is probably not well received.
What do they think is our primary goal in the war on terror? Between 9 percent-23 percent believe it is to protect ourselves from terrorism. Between 53 percent-86 percent believe it is to weaken, divide and dominate the Islamic religion and people.
What percentage of the polled Muslims is in favor of terrorism attacks on civilians (and note the question doesn't say American civilians -- which presumably would be more popular than attacks on even Muslim civilians -- as the general form of the question suggests)?
To varying degrees, 27 percent of Moroccans, 21 percent of Egyptians, 13 percent of Pakistanis and 11 percent of Indonesians approve of terrorism attacks on civilians -- and not just American civilians. Extrapolating those percentages to the world Muslim population, roughly 250 million Muslims may approve, under some circumstances, of terrorism attacks on civilians generally. One might reasonably guess a somewhat larger number would favor it if limited to American victims.
Of course, as the study points out, "Large majorities (57 percent-84 percent) in all countries oppose attacks against civilians for political purposes and see them as contrary to Islam." We must be grateful for such mercies. But when, to fairly extrapolate these numbers, about a quarter of a billion Muslims are in favor of civilian terrorist attacks, I think prudent people are entitled to be alarmed at the magnitude of the threat.