Islamic world confidence in Obama is slipping

Updated: 2010-06-18 10:31
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A year after President Barack Obama sought a new beginning with the Islamic world in a speech from Cairo, confidence in the US leader has dropped sharply in many Muslim countries, according to surveys released on Thursday.

US favorability ratings in allies Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan hover at about 17 percent, while confidence in Obama in those three countries was 33 percent, 23 percent and 8 percent respectively, surveys by the Pew Global Attitudes project found.

Obama's favorability ratings in each of the Muslim countries fell between 2009 and 2010 as his plans for advancing the Middle East peace process stalled and he continued ahead with wars in two Muslim countries: Afghanistan and Iraq.

The sharpest declines came in Turkey and Egypt, where confidence in Obama dropped 10 percentage points and 9 points respectively. Confidence in Obama dropped 5 points or less in the other Muslim countries surveyed.

Other Muslim countries viewed the United States more favorably. Fifty-nine percent of Indonesians had a favorable view of the United States, as did 52 percent of Lebanese. But only 21 percent of Jordanians saw the United States in a positive light.

By comparison, people in Egypt and Jordan gave al Qaeda a higher favorability rating than the United States. Thirty-four percent of Jordanians had a positive view of the group that carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks, versus 19 percent of Egyptians.

Sixty-seven percent of Indonesians had confidence in Obama to do the right thing in international affairs, 43 percent of Lebanese and 26 percent of Jordanians, the surveys found.

The United States and Obama fared better among non-Muslim countries involved in the 22-nation survey. US favorability ratings were 73 percent in France, 65 percent in Britain, 63 percent in Germany, 66 percent in Japan and India and 58 percent in China, the Pew surveys found.

Obama's ratings were lower generally than the previous year.

The surveys were carried out in April and May in 22 different countries. Researchers questioned between 700 and 3,262 people in each country. Some of the surveys were conducted by telephone, others face-to-face. The margins of error ranged between 2.5 and 5 percentage points, Pew said.