memores acti prudentes futuri

The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other

A rare point of agreement between Westerners and Muslims is that both believe that Muslim nations should be more economically prosperous than they are today. But they gauge the problem quite differently. Muslim publics have an aggrieved view of the West – they are much more likely than Americans or Western Europeans to blame Western policies for their own lack of prosperity. For their part, Western publics instead point to government corruption, lack of education and Islamic fundamentalism as the biggest obstacles to Muslim prosperity.

Released: 06.22.06

Introduction and Summary

After a year marked by riots over cartoon portrayals of Muhammad, a major terrorist attack in London, and continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, most Muslims and Westerners are convinced that relations between them are generally bad these days. Many in the West see Muslims as fanatical, violent, and as lacking tolerance. Meanwhile, Muslims in the Middle East and Asia generally see Westerners as selfish, immoral and greedy – as well as violent and fanatical.


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Other Major Findings

– Concerns over Islamic extremism are widely shared in Western publics and Muslim publics alike. But an exception is China, where 59% express little or no concern over Islamic extremism.

– Muslims differ over whether there is a struggle in their country between Islamic fundamentalists and groups wanting to modernize society. But solid majorities of those who perceive such a struggle side with the modernizers.

– Fully 41% of the general public in Spain says most or many Muslims in their country support Islamic extremists. But just 12% of Spain’s Muslims say most or many of the country’s Muslims support extremists like al Qaeda.

– Nearly four-in-ten Germans (37%), and 29% of Americans, say there is a natural conflict between being a devout Christian and living in a modern society.


For further information, please contact:
Richard Wike
Senior Project Director
Pew Global Attitudes Project
202.419.4400 or link to htpp://


Filed under: Being Muslim,


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