Poll: Major Change of Public Opinion in Muslim World

In the first substantial shift of public opinion in the Muslim world since the beginning of the United States’ global war on terrorism, more people in the world’s largest Muslim country now favor American efforts against terrorism than oppose them.

This is just one of many dramatic findings of a new nationwide poll in Indonesia conducted February 1-6, 2005, and just translated and released.
In a stunning turnaround of public opinion, support for Osama Bin Laden and terrorism in the world’s most populous Muslim nation has dropped significantly, while favorable views of the United States have increased.  The poll demonstrates that the reason for this positive change is the American response to the tsunami.
Key Findings of the Poll:
  • For the first time ever in a major Muslim nation, more people favor US-led efforts to fight terrorism than oppose them (40% to 36%).  Importantly, those who oppose US efforts against terrorism have declined by half, from 72% in 2003 to just 36% today.

  • For the first time ever in a Muslim nation since 9/11, support for Osama Bin Laden has dropped significantly (58% favorable to just 23%).

  • 65% of Indonesians now are more favorable to the United States because of the American response to the tsunami, with the highest percentage among people under 30.

  • Indeed, 71% of the people who express confidence in Bin Laden are now more favorable to the United States because of American aid to tsunami victims.

The Terror Free Tomorrow poll was conducted by the leading Indonesian pollster, Lembaga Survei Indonesia, and surveyed 1,200 adults nationwide with a margin of error of ± 2.9 percentage points.

Critical Implications

  • The support base that empowers global terrorists has significantly declined in the world’s largest Muslim country.  This is a major blow to Al Qaeda and other global terrorists.

  • U.S. actions can make a significant and immediate difference in eroding the support base for global terrorists.

  • The United States must sustain its relief and reconstruction efforts in Indonesia in order to prevent the support base from rebounding.

  • The size and strength of the support base can dramatically change in a short period of time. This is a front in the war on terrorism where the United States can continue to achieve additional success.

For the complete report, click here (Word) or here (PDF).

For a Power Point presentation of the poll results, click 

To see a videotape of the public release at The Heritage Foundation, click here and then click on "View Event." Mr. Ballen's presentation is at the beginning. For the Power Point presentation used at The Heritage Foundation event, click here.

To see some of the news coverage regarding the Terror Free Tomorrow poll, click here.

For historical data on the terrorist support base in Indonesia, click here.

For an analysis of support base data in Indonesia and other countries, click here.

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