Monday, January 21, 2008

Divisions between Muslim countries and the West getting worse

The good news is that both Muslim and Western countries actually agree on something. The bad news is that they both agree that divisions between them are worsening:
Respondents were asked how they thought relations were now and how they thought they would develop. Describing the position now, majorities on both sides said they did not believe the two sides were getting along.

This belief was strongest in the US, Israel, Denmark - where the publication of cartoons about the Muslim Prophet Muhammad caused worldwide controversy - and among Palestinians. WEF experts examining the poll data put this down to the effect of the Iraq war and the Middle East conflict.

By contrast, there was a less gloomy response in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Now this last bit of information is interesting. Either there is lopsided optimism here or may be people in these three countries believe that the relations have already hit rock bottom, and there is simply no room to make things worse.


As for the differences, Europeans come out the worse (or best - depending on one's inclination):

Europeans apparently feared more interaction with Islam - according to the report, they saw it as a threat to their cultural identity. But people in the US, Canada, Israel and the Muslim world said more contact would be a good thing.

But there are some slight positive signs also (in fact they are so rare that BBC decided to present them in a bullet format):

But there are some rays of hope among the gloom:

  • Most respondents said they did not believe violent conflict was inevitable
  • Most respondents said the quality of the relationship between the West and the Muslim world was important to them personally

Read the full story here (you can also get the full pdf report here):