A year after the death of its leader, al Qaeda is widely unpopular among Muslim publics. A new poll by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, conducted March 19 to April 13, 2012, finds majorities – and mostly large majorities – expressing negative views of the terrorist group in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Lebanon.
In Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy Seals, 13% of Muslims hold a favorable view of al Qaeda, 55% an unfavourable view, and roughly three-in-ten (31%) offer no opinion.
Support for the organisation is in the single digits among Turkish and Lebanese Muslims. In Jordan, just 15% express a positive opinion, essentially unchanged from last year, but down significantly from 34% in 2010. Al Qaeda receives its highest ratings in Egypt, where 21% hold a favorable and 71% an unfavourable opinion.
Before his death, support for bin Laden had waned considerably among Muslims around the world. Perhaps the most striking decline occurred in Jordan, where in 2005 61% had expressed confidence in bin Laden to do the right thing in world affairs. The next year, this number plummeted to 24% following al Qaeda suicide attacks in the nation’s capital, Amman. By 2011, only 13% expressed confidence in him.
Support for bin Laden also declined steeply over time among Muslims in Indonesia and Pakistan, as well as the Palestinian territories. Palestinians, however, remained more supportive than other publics – in 2011, 34% still expressed confidence in the al Qaeda leader.
Results for the survey are based on face-to-face interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Survey results are based on national samples. For further details on sample designs, see below.
The descriptions below show the margin of sampling error based on all interviews conducted in that country. For results based on the full sample in a given country, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus the margin of error. In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.