WASHINGTON - Support for Osama bin Laden and suicide bombings have fallen sharply in much of the Muslim world, according to a multicountry poll released on Thursday.
The survey by the Pew Research Center examined public opinion in six predominantly Muslim nations: Morocco, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Jordan and Lebanon. It also examined views in nine North American and European countries as well as in India and China.
In all, more than 17,000 people were questioned either by telephone of face-to-face.
"There's declining support for terrorism in the Muslim countries and support for Osama bin Laden is declining. There's also less support for suicide bombings," said Pew Center director Andrew Kohut.
"This is good news, but still there are substantial numbers who support bin Laden in some of these countries," He told a news conference.
In Morocco, 26 percent of the public now say they have a lot or some confidence in bin Laden, down from 49 percent in a similar poll two years ago. In Lebanon, where both Muslims and Christians took part in the survey, only 2 percent expressed some confidence in the Saudi-born al-Qaeda leader, down from 14 percent in 2003.
In Turkey, bin Laden's support has fallen to 7 percent from from 15 percent in the past two years. In Indonesia, it has dropped to 35 percent from 58 percent.
However, in Jordan, confidence in bin Laden, who took responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and many other attacks, rose to 60 percent from 55 percent. In Pakistan, it went to 51 percent from 45 percent.
A similar picture emerged when respondents were asked whether suicide bombings were justifiable. In Morocco, 13 percent said they often or sometimes could be justified, down from 40 percent in 2004.
More Jordanians support suicide bombings
In Indonesia, 15 percent expressed that view, down from 27 percent in the summer of 2002. Support for suicide bombings also fell in Pakistan and dropped dramatically in Lebanon. However, support rose in Jordan, to 57 percent from 43 percent in 2002.
Kohut noted there had been devastating attacks on civilians in Indonesia, Morocco and Turkey in recent years and a rash of assassinations
Both in Western countries and the Muslim world, respondents expressed fears about Islamic extremism.
Seventy-three percent in Morocco and 52 percent in Pakistan saw Islamic extremism as a threat to their country. The figure was 84 percent in Russia, 78 percent in Germany, and an identical 70 percent in Britain and the United States.
The poll was taken well before last week's bombings in London.
When asked what caused Islamic extremism, 40 percent in Lebanon and 38 percent in Jordan blamed U.S. policies and influence; in Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey, respondents were more likely to blame poverty, unemployment or poor education.
Despite terrorism fears, majorities in Britain, the United States, France, Canada and Russia and pluralities in Spain and Poland expressed favorable views about Muslims.
But in Germany and the Netherlands, opinion swung to an unfavorable view. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed in the Netherlands expressed an unfavorable view of Muslims. In Germany, 47 percent were unfavorable, compared with 40 percent who expressed favorable views.
Anti-Jewish sentiment was overwhelming in the Muslim countries. In Lebanon, 100 percent of Muslims and 99 percent of Christians said they had a very unfavorable view of Jews, while 99 percent of Jordanians also viewed Jews very unfavorably.