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3 May 2011

Little support for Osama Bin Laden among Muslims worldwide

Pew Centre research shows that support for Osama among Muslim populations was already seriously decl

By Samira Shackle

Osama Bin Laden enjoys little widespread support among Muslim populations worldwide, according to the Pew Research Centre.

Since Bin Laden was killed, Pew has collated findings from the six predominantly Muslim nations recently surveyed for its Global Attitudes Project.

The highest level of support for the Qaeda leader was found in the Palestinian territories – although, even there, only 34 per cent said they had confidence that he would do the right thing in world affairs. In Indonesia, 26 per cent of Muslims said they trusted him, while 22 per cent agreed in Egypt and 13 per cent in Jordan. There was hardly any support for him at all among Turkish (3 per cent) or Lebanese Muslims (1 per cent).


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The figures have also dropped sharply over time. Back in 2003, 72 per cent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories expressed support for Bin Laden, a figure that has now dropped by 38 points. The proportion of Indonesian Muslims who voiced confidence in him has dropped by 33 points from 59 per cent in 2003.

This could partly be because of terrorist attacks on Muslim soil. In Jordan, support fell steeply from 61 per cent in 2005 to 24 per cent in 2006, following suicide attacks in Amman. In Pakistan, confidence fell from 52 per cent in 2005 to 18 per cent last year, which may reflect the increasingly heavy death toll from suicide attacks on the country.

The figures also reflect how, even before the death of Bin Laden, al-Qaeda had ceased to be a dominant or defining force in the Muslim world or Middle East.

As Ian Black wrote in yesterday’s Guardian:

None of the uprisings that have shaken the region, from Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution to the ongoing protests against the Assad regime in Syria, has involved significant Islamist activity – let alone the violent, extremist jihadi ideas promoted by Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and their ilk.

Al-Qaeda had already looked marginal and on the back foot for several years. But the dawn of largely peaceful change in the Middle East and North Africa this year rendered it irrelevant.