Muslims from poorer states positive on West, says poll

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DUBAI: Muslims from impoverished nations with low literacy rates and a high dependence on foreign aid hold the most positive views on relations with the West, according to a newly released poll.

But Western states were perceived the worst by the people of predominantly Muslim countries engaged in conflicts, directly or indirectly, with the West, showed the survey by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center.

Senegal, Mauritania and Mali topped the Gallup Muslim-West Perceptions Index showing the most positive attitude towards the West, while Yemen, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan were at the bottom.

Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen — where unprecedented anti-regime protests have transformed the political landscape this year — also fell in the lower half of the index.

Wealthier Gulf Arab states have some of the best perceptions of Muslim-West ties, according to the poll with Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the index’s upper half.

A key determining factor in the results was perceptions of US leadership, said Gallup, which conducted the poll of 45,000 people in 48 countries in Europe, the United States and the Muslim world.

"Stated simply, the more approving countries are of the leadership of the United States, the more likely they are to rank high" on the index, the report said, adding the views on US policy is the variable "with the most impact" on the results.

Dalia Mogahed, head of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, called the survey on Muslim-West perceptions "essential" as it contributes to the understanding of "what is working and what is not."

"It’s about US policy, not religion," she told AFP, explaining that countries with poor perceptions of the United States tended to rank very low on the index as a whole.

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