Extremism Widely Rejected
Muslims around the world strongly reject violence in the name of Islam. Asked specifically about suicide bombing, clear majorities in most countries say such acts are rarely or never justified as a means of defending Islam from its enemies.
In most countries where the question was asked, roughly three-quarters or more Muslims reject suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians. And in most countries, the prevailing view is that such acts are never justified as a means of defending Islam from its enemies. Yet there are some countries in which substantial minorities think violence against civilians is at least sometimes justified. This view is particularly widespread among Muslims in the Palestinian territories (40%), Afghanistan (39%), Egypt (29%) and Bangladesh (26%).
The survey finds little evidence that attitudes toward violence in the name of Islam are linked to factors such as age, gender or education. Similarly, the survey finds no consistent link between support for enshrining sharia as official law and attitudes toward religiously motivated violence. In only three of the 15 countries with sufficient samples sizes for analysis – Egypt, Kosovo and Tunisia – are sharia supporters significantly more likely to say suicide bombing and other forms of violence are at least sometimes justified. In Bangladesh, sharia supporters are significantly less likely to hold this view.
In a majority of countries surveyed, at least half of Muslims say they are somewhat or very concerned about religious extremism. And on balance, more Muslims are concerned about Islamic than Christian extremist groups. In all but one of the 36 countries where the question was asked, no more than one-in-five Muslims express worries about Christian extremism, compared with 28 countries where at least that many say they are concerned about Islamic extremist groups. This includes six countries in which 40% or more of Muslims worry about Islamic extremism: Guinea Bissau (54%), Indonesia (53%), Kazakhstan (46%), Iraq (45%), Ghana (45%) and Pakistan (40%). (For more details on views toward extremism, see Concern About Religious Extremism in Chapter 2: Religion and Politics.)