Pew: U.S. image largely unimproved in Middle East after 'Arab Spring'
President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a major address Thursday on U.S. policy toward the "Arab Spring" uprisings.
May 17th, 2011
09:37 PM ET

Pew: U.S. image largely unimproved in Middle East after 'Arab Spring'

The United States' image in four Middle Eastern nations and the Palestinian territories largely doesn't appear to have improved during anti-government uprisings that have shaken regimes in the region, a survey from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project found.

Fewer people in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon view the United States favorably now than in 2010, while small gains were seen in Egypt - where an uprising toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak earlier this year - and the Palestinian territories, according to the survey.

Pew said America's image also dipped in the two other predominantly Muslim nations that were surveyed: Pakistan and Indonesia.

The results of the survey, which was taken between March 21 and April 26, come as U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to deliver on Thursday a highly anticipated address on U.S. policy toward the "Arab Spring" uprisings that have shaken autocratic regimes across North Africa and the Middle East.

It also comes as Obama is urging Israel and the Palestinians to restart negotiations on a two-state solution to their decades-long conflict.

"Many of the concerns that have driven animosity toward the U.S. in recent years are still present - a perception that the U.S. acts unilaterally, opposition to the war on terror, and fears of America as a military threat," a Pew report on the survey said.

Thirteen percent of those surveyed in Jordan had a favorable view of the United States, down from 21% last year. U.S. favorability in Turkey (10%, down from 17%), Pakistan (11%, down from 17%), Indonesia (54%, down from 59%) and Lebanon (49%, down from 52%) also saw dips.

U.S. favorability rose in Egypt (20%, up from 17%) and the Palestinian territories (18%, up from 15% in 2009, the last time a survey was done there).

The percentage of people expressing at least some confidence in Obama was up slightly in Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey, but of the nations surveyed, only Indonesia (62%) - where Obama spent some time as a child - had a majority doing so, Pew said.

And majorities in each surveyed nation, expect for Indonesia and Pakistan, said they disapproved how Obama handled calling for political change in the Middle East.

Other findings, according to Pew:

- Most of those surveyed said democracy was preferable to any other kind of government (including more than 70% in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt). The only nation where a majority didn't agree was in Pakistan, where 46% said democracy was preferable.

- Majorities in each surveyed country and territory – except for Egypt, where the questions weren't asked - said economic prosperity, political stability, religious freedom, free elections, free speech and gender equality are very important in a democracy.

- Majorities in Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt believe laws should be based strictly on the teachings of the Quran. This was a minority view in Turkey, Lebanon, Indonesia and the Palestinian territories.

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Filed under: Egypt • Indonesia • Jordan • Lebanon • Pakistan • Palestinians • Politics • Turkey
soundoff (260 Responses)
  1. Sam

    I get a kick everytime i see hate comments about Muslims. Even sometimes from those who know better. Muslims have their own huge problems. They need to deal with it themselves and not US. However, you have to recognize the fact that we in the US have played Values Vs Interest games in the middle east for a long time. For those of you who fail to recognize this are too petty or ignorant to see it.
    It is a fact that we have supported tyrannies like Saudi Arabia (still today). We are the biggest partner of Communism at it best (China) by giving them tons of business, we supported regimes like Egypt, Jordan (Still do).
    What i am saying is it is our interest to do it but it does confilicts with our values and we look the other way sometimes
    what have done a lot of good, a lot in this world but we have also been part of the world that has really gone wrong and some of us are again just too petty to see it.
    Most of us have not travelled outside our border, only 20% of us have passports. Go figure.
    The comments that i see against a religion cant be made against another religion race or ethnicity these days. It is just appalling to see this hatred. I still believe overall as Americans we are better than this so we should show some respect to others. I am sure many Muslims doctors, nurses, teachers, fire fighters and policemen went to work and did some good today in this country and they will do the same tomorrow just like lot of people of other or not faith. That is all i have to say.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Lee Oates

      Exellent statement. Thanks for sharing your well thoughtout opinion.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
    • hawaiiduude

      Exactly. And as long as we give the tiny regime of israel the lions share of our money and blind unquestionable support in comparison to the rest of the world, we will continue to have an negative image.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
    • DrManic

      Our hatred doesn't cause those we hate to get their heads cut-off so GFY, Sam.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin


      I think DrManic has sadly illustrated your points about ignorance and hatred...

      May 18, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Hawiiduude, maybe the reason the US backs israel so much is because it IS the only true democracy in that region. You can anything you want about the Arabs but they will NEVER be truly democratic and nothing we do will change that. for our own interests it's better to place our trust in a real democracy then the lunatics in those other countries. I am neither religious jewish just an Amercian who hopes we maintain good relations of isreal for our own interests.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      They hate us because it's a hate movement. If you think you can appease them, you're a fool.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. reasonable man

    Wow... I have friends who are Muslim and they are a lot smarter than you idiots posting derogatory comments. I would hate a group of stereotypical idiots like you guys as well, and although I'm an atheist I can sympathize why Muslims dislike you intolerant Christians... your religion is about acceptance not,provoking others

    May 18, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Have you read the Koran? As a fellow Atheist, they mention killing us... a... lot.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      It's amazing how people still don't want to accept who the real 'bad guy' is in this equation. Demonizing Christians? Really? Christians only want for you to accept JC as your Savior, they don't want to slit your throat for not converting to their religion. They also don't want to subject their women to abuse and second class treatment, or for their daughters to submit to the wishes of their fathers under threat of death. Look up 'honor killings' on Google to read about that. Where are the so called 'moderate' Muslims CNN and the left want us to understand so much. They seem to be extremely quiet if they exist at all. Muslims have alot of PR to initiate to convince me of how 'peaceul' and 'loving' they are. Otherwise I will continue beleiving that, in the very least, they are tacit supporters of all the bad things we have witnessed with this religion over the past 13 years.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Since when has Christianity been about acceptance? That is a ludicrous statement. Christianity never accepts that there are people out there who are non-christian. Indeed, many branches go after the other branches as 'infidels'.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      @Edwin Just how big an idiot are you for comparing the Apple of Islam with the Orange of Christianity, particularly in the manner you care to compare them? The insistance of some branches of Christianity as the more "true" branch compared to another is hardly the same as what Muslims do to non-Muslims, and even to different sects wihin Islam. Study the Sunni's and the Shias. Two branches of Islam that disagree about some minor aspect of the religion yet they kill each other early and often for being different. Do you hear often of babtists killing Mormans much in this country with suicide bombs? Hmmm. Go back and try again there, babe.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      Where are they? There are several on here posting about their hatred for the West? Where are your moderate friends calling for tolerance and goodwill? Absent again?

      Now there's a surprise.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. pjoe

    Arab ... schmarab. I'm an American and I have a lower opinion of the U.S. now. I need to quit my job & start drawing welfare so my kids can afford to go to college.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Good luck with that. The welfare program actually ended under Clinton.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Dude – the welfare system ended under Clinton? Is it fun to make stuff up and post it online?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. TheBuckStopsHere

    What??? The rest of the world has not embraced our savior president? Who'd have thunk it?

    May 18, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
    • u2stupid

      Looks like you have embraced ignorance though.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  5. findMe

    Most of u are ignorant n stupid. It does not matter what America thinks of them what matters is what Muslim thinks n feels about the west..1.9 billion of them. 1.8 million of them don't support terrorism but 1.8 of them don't like US policy n how israel is being handled. World will be dominated by muslims. By 2040 there will be 50 million muslims in USA..Europe will be a Muslim nation.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |

      1.9 billion Muslims and 1.8 million don't support terrorism... Leaving approximately 1.898 billion people who support terrorism...

      And, by 2040, Europe will be a Muslim nation...

      Please tell us poor, ignorant, stupid people: Will Asia and South America be nations by then too?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Maximus

      Should we be scared? I guess so if only 1.8 million of them don't support terrorism! At least you told the truth about one thing.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Haha nice made up facts MOHAMMED. Why don't you go blow yourself up or something k?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      I think you meant to say 1.8 billion don't support terrorism. Oops...

      May 18, 2011 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Mohammad Al Akbar Saraheem

      So wait, is it million or billion? You keep switching.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. huxley

    I never would have guessed we have such high approval in Lebanon – and such low approval in Turkey. Thats the damn inverse of our diplomatic affiliations. The Turkish government adores us, and they want to join the EU. I don't think we even have an ambassador to Lebanon, but apparently the people there love America more than some US states do.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  7. dave

    Of course these countries are going to be against the war on terror. They're the countries producing it!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. JWG

    The Pew can tell them that we don't like them either.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. brandi

    Has anyone on here ever even met a Muslim? Maybe you should judge people by the content of their character. Their individual character. Or is that un American? You people hate others as if that is not the very thing we are fighting against in these wars! Unbelievable that you would call yourselves American.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
    • DrManic

      No brandi, what is unbelievable is that people that call themselves Americans (mainly liberals in this case) would defend radical muslim extremism less than 10yrs after 911, while bashing and degrading Christianity.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      brandi: I have known several muslims and found them to be nice, decent people. I have also known several christians, and some *few* of them are also nice, decent people.

      DrManic: are you for real? Did you even read brandi's words? Or are you so irrational that you believe ALL muslims are radical extremists? Very sad.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. brandi

    Also a fellow atheist.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dottie

    Who can respect a nation that has become weak an give aid to countries so that those countries can buy weapons to attack our allies

    May 18, 2011 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. Edwin

    More than 70% in Jordan and Egypt said that democracy was preferable to any other kind of government, yet a majority in each country ALSO felt that laws should be based strictly on the teachings of the Quran.

    How does this work? The basis of laws cannot be BOTH democracy (views of everyone as a whole) and strict Islam (views based on a very specific rule set). The Quran can help *shape* a democracy (for example, Indonesia), but a strict religious government cannot really coexist with a truly democratic one.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
  13. Woodsman

    Reading their "bible" the koran would help people realize islam's goal: kill jews and anyone who doesn't convert. So any idiot saying islam is peaceful is not only delusional but stupid.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. Woodsman

    Right on steve

    May 18, 2011 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mountainman

    As an American, I can say that our image is OK.This movement is not about the US. As my grandfather, Wm. Wallace said, over 700 years ago, this movement is about FREEDOM!!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
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