'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Who Are the Extremists? 

From a post over at the Angry Arab, citing a Gallup World Poll:

As a starting point, Muslims do not hold a monopoly on extremist views. While 6% of Americans think attacks in which civilians are targets are "completely justified," in both Lebanon and Iran, this figure is 2%, and in Saudi Arabia, it's 4%. In Europe, Muslims in Paris and London were no more likely than were their counterparts in the general public to believe attacks on civilians are ever justified and at least as likely to reject violence, even for a "noble cause."

After analyzing survey data representing more than 90% of the global Muslim population, Gallup found that despite widespread anti-American sentiment, only a small minority saw the 9/11 attacks as morally justified. Even more significant, there was no correlation between level of religiosity and extremism among respondents.

So, the answer to the rhetorical title of this post is, a small percentage of people in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. And, yet, the neoconservatives have sought to exploit 9/11, as described earlier today, to promote a so-called clash of civilizations, between two dubious abstractions, Western and Islamic civilization.

But, wouldn't it have been interesting to compare the percentage of Americans who believe that the invasion of Iraq was justified with the percentage of Muslims who believe that the 9/11 attacks were morally justified? If anything, such a comparison would have probably revealed that most of the extremism exists on the western side of the Atlantic.

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