Obama losing fans in Muslim world

The perception remains that US acts "unilaterally," "does not consider interests of other countries," Pew survey finds.

June 13, 2012 20:53
2 minute read.
US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama in NY 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)


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WASHINGTON – Approval of US President Barack Obama in the Muslim world is increasingly falling, according to a Pew survey released Wednesday that largely blamed his foreign policies for the decline.

“There remains a widespread perception that the US acts unilaterally and does not consider the interests of other countries,” the Pew Research Center summarizes. “In predominantly Muslim nations, American anti-terrorism efforts are still widely unpopular.”

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The survey singles out drone strikes targeting extremist leaders as being particularly disliked, even in European countries that give higher approval ratings to Obama. Disappointment is also evident in his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the 21- country survey of more than 26,000 people conducted between March 17 and April 20.

In Muslim countries polled – Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Jordan, Turkey and Pakistan – confidence in Obama has dropped from 33 percent in 2009 to 24% in 2012. Approval of his international policies has fallen even more sharply, from 34% to 15%. America’s image overall has gone from 25% favorability to 15%. Obama does, however, continue to enjoy higher ratings in Muslim countries than then-president George W. Bush did in 2008 – as much as 22 points higher in some cases and tied in only one, the 7% approval Pakistanis have given both presidents.

When it comes to Obama’s anti-terrorism policies, Lebanon was the Muslim country to give his efforts the highest grade, with 32% approving, while most Muslim countries were significantly less supportive.

On US drone attacks, 12% of Tunisians approve of the measure, with all other Muslim countries in the single digits. In contrast, 62% of Americans approve of them.

Though few Muslim countries in 2009 expected Obama to be “fair with Israelis and Palestinians,” as the question puts it – Egypt at 24% expressed the most optimism – the numbers have dropped markedly since.

Now only 11% of Egyptians think Obama has been fair toward the two parties, the same proportion as in Jordan.

Nine percent of Turks, 5% of Pakistanis and just 3% of Tunisians agree. Lebanese give him the highest marks, at 18%.

Americans, however, mostly think Obama has been fair toward both parties, though the number has dropped over the course of his presidency.

While 77% thought he would be fair upon entering office, 60% still think he has been.

Israel was not among the countries surveyed.

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