Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

What shapes Muslim public opinion on political violence against the United States?

03 March 2014 |

Top ranked Journal of Peace Research publishes article by Dr Lars Berger about Muslim Public Opinion on Political Violence against the United States.

Dr Berger's analysis uses survey data representing three of the world’s most populous Muslim majority countries to challenge conventional wisdom on what shapes Muslim public opinion on political violence against the United States.

It improves previous analysis by clearly distinguishing support for violence against civilians from support for violence against military targets and by featuring independent variables that clearly separate views on US foreign policies from views on US culture. Logistic regression shows that, among Egyptian, Pakistani and Indonesian Muslims, perceptions of controversial US policies toward Israel, Middle Eastern oil, or the perceived attempt to weaken and divide the Muslim world are not related to support for attacks on civilians in the United States, but only to support for attacks on US military targets.

Approval of attacks on US civilians is shaped, instead, by negative views of US freedom of expression, culture, and people, disapproval of the domestic political status quo as well as the notion of general US hostility toward democracy in the Middle East. This last finding has important implications for US and Western policies toward the post-Arab Spring Middle East in particular and the broader relationship with the Muslim World in general

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