Support for Obama Falls Sharply in Muslim-Dominant Nations Since 2009, Pew Survey Reports

By Penny Starr | June 18, 2010 | 4:09 PM EDT

President Barack Obama ( Starr)

(  -- In its annual Global Attitudes Project, the Pew Research Center released data on Thursday that finds the approval rating of President Barack Obama has declined sharply in the past year in almost all Muslim-dominant countries around the world.
The 2010 survey, which involved interviews of 240,000 people in 57 countries, found that one year after Obama’s speech in Cairo, Egypt to reach out to Muslims worldwide, a majority of Islam-dominant nations has a negative opinion of the president and his policies.
“Among Muslim publics – except in Indonesia where Obama lived for several years as a child – the modest levels of confidence and approval observed in 2009 have slipped markedly,” the survey found. “In Egypt the percentage of Muslims expressing confidence in Obama fell from 41% to 31% and in Turkey from 33% to 23%.”
“Last year only 13% of Pakistani Muslims expressed confidence in Obama, but this year even fewer (8%) hold this view,” the survey reported. “And while views of Obama are still more positive than were attitudes toward President George W. Bush among most Muslim publics, significant percentages continue to worry that the U.S. could become a military threat to their country.”
The survey also reported, “Confidence in Obama has declined in some predominantly Muslim countries since he first took office, dropping by 10 percentage points in Turkey, 9 points in Egypt and 5 points in Jordan.”
Chapter Two of the 172-page study is devoted to survey questions about how Obama and his policies are perceived around the world. And while 16 of 22 countries surveyed about Obama expressed at least some confidence in the president, “in five of six predominately Muslim countries … more than half lack confidence in Obama,” the survey found.
The survey found that 60 percent of Pakistanis said they lack confidence that Obama would do the right thing in world affairs.

Muslims at a mosque in Pakistan. (AP Photo)

Only about 25 percent of Jordanians gave Obama a positive rating and only 23 percent of Turks gave the president a favorable rating.
In Lebanon – where opinions of Obama are somewhat more positive than other Muslim countries (43 percent) -- more than half, 56 percent, say they have little or no confidence in the president.
Confidence in Obama by the Shia population in Lebanon fell from 26 percent having confidence in 2009, to 7 percent expressing confidence this year. With a plus or minus 4 percent margin of error, support among Sunni Muslims in Lebanon remained unchanged (61 percent vs. 65 percent).
When asked about Obama’s international policies, only 9 percent of Pakistanis express support overall, with 48 percent expressing disapproval. Fewer than 1 in 5 in three Muslim nations support Obama’s foreign policies – Jordan 15 percent; Egypt 17 percent; and Turkey 17 percent. Lebanon’s support was mixed – 44 percent approved, 48 percent disapproved.
“Views of Obama’s international policies among publics in Muslim countries are considerably more negative than they were a year ago  when people in those countries (Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon ) already expressed less positive views than did those in other parts of the world,” the survey states.
“Obama receives overwhelmingly low ratings from publics in predominantly Muslim countries for his job performance in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the survey states. “In Turkey, only 4 percent approve, while 68 disapprove of Obama’s handling of Iraq. His ratings for Afghanistan are similarly low – 5 percent approve, 62 percent disapprove.
The majority of predominantly Muslim nations also rate Obama “extremely low” for his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nine in 10 Lebanese disapprove, 88 percent of Egyptians and 84 percent of Jordanian also disapprove.

Egypt’s Cairo University will be the venue for President Obama’s much-anticipated address to the Muslim world on June 4. (AP Photo)

Mostly Muslim nations also disapprove of how Obama is dealing with Iran: In Jordan, 84 percent disapprove; Turkey, 62 percent disapproval; Indonesia, 53 percent disapprove; and 52 percent of Pakistanis disapprove.
A majority of Muslim nations also disapprove of how Obama is handling the global economic crisis – 81 percent of Jordanians and 80 percent of Egyptians disapprove. More than half of those surveyed in Lebanon and Turkey disapprove, 53 percent and 51 percent respectively.
The way the United States is perceived overall by mostly Muslim countries around the world continues to be “overwhelming negative,” according to the survey.
“Publics of other largely Muslim countries continue to hold overwhelmingly negative views of the U.S. In both Turkey and Pakistan – where ratings for the U.S. have been consistently low in recent years – only 17% hold a positive opinion,” the survey states. “Indeed, the new poll finds opinion of the U.S. slipping in some Muslim countries where opinion had edged up in 2009.”
“In Egypt, America’s favorability rating dropped from 27% to 17% – the lowest percentage observed in any of the Pew Global Attitudes surveys conducted in that country since 2006,” reads the survey.