July 14, 2005

Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Western Publics

About the Pew Global Attitudes Project

The Pew Global Attitudes Project is a series of worldwide public opinion surveys encompassing a broad array of subjects ranging from people’s assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day. The Pew Global Attitudes Project is co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, currently principal, the Albright Group LLC, and by former Senator John C. Danforth, currently partner, Bryan Cave LLP. The project is directed by Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan “fact tank” in Washington, DC, that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Pew Global Attitudes Project is principally funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation provided a supplemental grant for the 2002 survey.

The Pew Global Attitudes Project was originally conceived with two primary objectives: to gauge attitudes in every region toward globalization, trade and an increasingly connected world; and to measure changes in attitudes toward democracy and other key issues among some of the European populations surveyed in the 13-nation 1991 benchmark survey, the Pulse of Europe (also directed by Dr. Albright and Mr. Kohut). After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the scope of the project was broadened to measure attitudes about terrorism, the intersection between the Islamic faith and public policy in countries with significant Muslim populations, and to probe attitudes toward the United States more deeply in all countries. Recent Global Attitudes surveys have gauged worldwide opinion about international news developments, including the war in Iraq. Over time, the project has surveyed more than 90,000 people in 50 countries.

The inaugural effort of this project was a worldwide survey in 24 countries of 275 opinion leaders (influential people in politics, media, business, culture and government). The survey, entitled “America Admired, Yet its New Vulnerability Seen as Good Thing, Say Opinion Leaders,” was released December 19, 2001. The first multinational public opinion survey was conducted in the summer of 2002 in 44 nations. The first major report, “What the World Thinks in 2002,” was released December 4, 2002. It focused on how people view their own lives, their countries and the world, as well as attitudes toward the United States. It was followed by a smaller release on the importance of religion worldwide (December 19, 2002) and a new nine-country survey on the eve of the Iraq war (“America’s Image Further Erodes, Europeans Want Weaker Ties,” March 18, 2003). The second major release of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, “Views of a Changing World, June 2003” focused on a changing world, specifically with respect to globalization, democratization, modernization and, in countries with significant Muslim populations, the role of Islam in public policy. It included a survey of 21 populations conducted in May 2003, as major hostilities ended in Iraq. In March 2004, at the one-year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, the Pew Global Attitudes Project released a 9-nation survey entitled “Mistrust of America in Europe ever Higher, Muslim Anger Persists.” “Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Western Publics; Support for Terror Wanes Among Muslim Publics” is the tenth Global Attitudes survey report. This and the previous report (“U.S. Image Up Slightly, But Still Negative; American Character Gets Mixed Reviews,” released June 23, 2005) are based on field work conducted in the spring of 2005.

Other Pew Global Attitudes Project team members include Bruce Stokes, an international economics columnist at the National Journal; Mary McIntosh, president of Princeton Survey Research Associates International; Wendy Sherman, principal at The Albright Group LLC, and Jodie T. Allen, Nicole Speulda, Paul Taylor, Carroll Doherty, Carolyn Funk, Michael Dimock, Elizabeth Mueller Gross and others of the Pew Research Center. The International Herald Tribune is the international newspaper partner of the Global Attitudes Project. The IHT’s reporters conducted interviews with people in several countries covered by the survey; excerpts from those interviews are used in this report to illustrate some of the views expressed. Those interviewed were not respondents to the survey.

Secretary Albright and Senator Danforth co-chair the Pew Global Attitudes Project international advisory board, consisting of policy experts and business leaders. In addition, the Pew Global Attitudes Project team consulted with survey and policy experts, academic regional and economic experts, activists and policy-makers. Their expertise provided tremendous guidance in shaping the surveys.

Following each release, the data will be examined in greater detail for a series of in-depth discussions and publications of several of the varied topics covered in these surveys. The Pew Global Attitudes Project is a unique, comprehensive, internationally comparable series of surveys that will be available to journalists, academics, policymakers and the public.