8 Mar 2006

Survey shows significant support for radical Islam in Indonesia

Survey shows significant support for radical Islam in Indonesia (2004)

Survey shows significant support for radical Islam in Indonesia. A survey showed Friday that many Indonesians support the implementation of strict Islamic law, with nearly 60 percent saying they want adulterers to be whipped and 40 percent backing cutting off a thief's hand.

The survey, conducted by the U.S.-funded Freedom Institute, also found 16 percent of people polled refused to condemn terror attacks by the al-Qaida linked regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah if they were committed to fight Muslim oppression. Still, 59 percent condemned the attacks, while 25 percent said they had no opinion.

The findings will likely rekindle concerns that radical Islam is gaining a foothold in the world's most populous Muslim nation, which has long embraced a moderate form of the religion. "It is a worrying phenomenon," said Ulil Abdala, the institute's head. "There is a strong indication that radical Islam is gaining ground. It's definitely something that moderate Indonesian Muslims must take note."

He added many uneducated Indonesians may not have access to information about the terror attacks that have hit the country in recent years or their only sources of information are militant Islamic groups.

Since 2002, Indonesia has suffered three major bombings blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah that have killed 224 people. The survey, which was carried out for the first time earlier this month, showed many Indonesians support the establishment of laws based on the Muslim holy book Quran. Fifty-nine percent of people polled backed whipping adulterers and 40 percent said thieves should have their hands hacked off. Meanwhile, 39 percent said they support polygamy for men and 40 percent oppose a women becoming president.

Many Indonesian Muslims also expressed intolerant attitudes toward Christians, with 50 percent saying they oppose churches in Muslim-majority areas, the survey said. A Catholic school near Jakarta was closed for three weeks in October when a Muslim group built the two-meter-high (seven-foot-high) wall in front of its gates. The group accused the school of aggressive proselytizing.

However, 82 percent of Indonesians oppose a hardline militant group, the Islamic Defenders Front, which is notorious for raiding Western cafes and bars during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Freedom Institute surveyed 1,200 people in all 32 provinces, and the poll had a margin of error of 3 percent.

More than 85 percent of the country's 210 million people are Muslims, while Christians are 8 percent, Hindus 2 percent and Buddhists less than 1 percent.

Survey shows significant support for radical Islam in Indonesia from the Associated Press November 12, 2004 (Includes Jakarta Post's report of same survey)
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Humanitarian Relief Sustains Change in Muslim Public Opinion(2006)

A new poll by Terror Free Tomorrow demonstrates that one year after the tsunami in Indonesia , the dramatic increase in Indonesian support for the United States and against Bin Laden has continued.

American humanitarian aid to tsunami victims last year caused an overwhelming change of opinion in Indonesia , the world’s largest Muslim country. The new nationwide poll throughout Indonesia reveals that this dramatic shift has not only been sustained, but has strengthened.

The fact that more than a year after American help, Indonesians continue to appreciate America’s role is stunning proof of the sustained power of positive and substantial assistance to radically change Muslim public opinion. Despite widespread stories on Koran desecration, Guantanamo , even the Danish cartoons, favorable opinion toward the United States in Indonesia has actually increased from 34 percent a year ago to 44 percent at the end of January 2006, while unfavorable views declined from 54 percent to 41 percent.

The overwhelming reason for these changes continues to be American humanitarian relief. The increased favorable view of the United States occurred in tandem with similar declines in support for Bin Laden and terrorism.

Key Findings of the Poll:

For the first time in almost four years, more Indonesians are favorable to the United States than unfavorable, while support for Bin Laden and terrorism has dropped to its lowest level since 9/11.

63% of Indonesians continue to have a more favorable opinion of the United States because of the American response to the tsunami more than a year later.

Favorable opinion among Indonesians to the United States has nearly tripled from 15% in May 2003 to 34% in January 2005 and more than 44% now, while the percentage of Indonesians with very unfavorable views declined from 48% in May 2003 to 21% last January and just 13% today.

United States fared better in Indonesian public opinion than other Western countries, other Islamic countries and local Islamist groups.

Only a mere 2% of Indonesians surveyed now believe suicide terrorist attacks are ever justified, down from 27% after 9/11, and 9% last year.
Support for Osama Bin Laden has declined significantly (58% favorable in May 2003 to 23% a year ago and just 12% now).

Critical Implications:
American humanitarian assistance can make a significant and long-term difference in building goodwill toward the United States and eroding popular support for global terrorists. The United States must sustain its relief and reconstruction efforts in in order to prevent popular support for Islamist radicalism from rebounding. Indeed, a majority of Indonesians want continued American assistance.

The poll follows similar findings from previous Terror Free Tomorrow public opinion surveys in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Palestinian Territories. 78% of Pakistanis had a more favorable opinion of the United States because of American earthquake relief.

Similarly, a strong majority of Palestinians want the United States to become more involved in resolving the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

These public opinion surveys, in three distinct regions of the Muslim world, demonstrate for the first time that American policies based on humanitarian interventions result in sustained, substantial, and favorable changes in Muslim opinion.

Picked up here from Patung's imformative site Indonesia Matters

For the complete poll results and report, including methodology, click here (Word), click here (PDF).
From Terror Free tomorrow:
Humanitarian Relif Sustains change in Muslim Public Opinion

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