July 23rd, 2009
11:05 AM ET
5 years ago

Survey: Obama does little to nudge global Muslim views of America

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's much-heralded speech last month in Egypt did little to change America's image in the Muslim world, a survey released Thursday shows.

Muslim people were not so easily moved by Obama's speech June 4, according to interviews conducted by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project.

"This analysis suggests that the speech had little measurable impact on views of the U.S. or Obama himself," the Pew researchers said.

"However," they cautioned, "the pre-post comparisons were rudimentary ones that could only have detected a major swing in public opinion."

But with Obama's presidency, America's image has improved drastically in most parts of the world, the poll found.

"In many countries, opinions of the United States are now about as positive as they were at the beginning of the decade before George W. Bush took office," the report said.

Pew interviewed 27,000 people in 25 countries between May 18 and June 16. The margin of error is 2 percentage points in some nations and up to 4 percentage points in others.

Favorable ratings for the United States have soared in Europe and in key nations in Africa and Latin America, where belief that Obama "will do the right thing in world affairs" is almost universal. Lack of confidence in America's leadership is now the opposite.

In France and Germany, for instance, nine out of 10 people expressed confidence in Obama, giving the American president higher ratings than their own leaders Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel respectively.

Asians are equally optimistic with 85 percent of Japanese, 81 percent of South Koreans, 77 percent of Indians and 64 percent of Chinese expressing confidence in Obama.

But most troubling are the numbers in the Islamic world.

More people in those nations expressed confidence in Obama than they did in Bush, but "deep and unabated" animosity toward America still exists, the poll found.

Only 14 percent of Turks have a favorable view of America; 15 percent of Palestinians; and 16 percent of Pakistanis.

One notable exception is Indonesia, where Obama spent some time as a child.

America's overwhelmingly negative ratings during the Bush years turned the other way in Indonesia, jumping from 37 percent in 2008 to 63 percent this year.

The Pew interviews suggested that people were pleased with Obama's decision to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and withdraw troops from Iraq, but increasing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan does not engender broad global support.

It may be too early to precisely judge the impact of Obama's highly-anticipated speech at Egypt's Cairo University last month, but the Pew poll said that the president's remarks resulted in lowering Israeli opinions of the United States more than it uplifted Palestinians.

On that day, Obama explored the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, endorsing a two-state solution and urging compromise and understanding between "two peoples with legitimate aspirations." Obama said it was "undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland."

"The Cairo effect," as Pew called it, was this: Among Israelis, a favorable rating of the United States dropped from 76 percent to 63 percent and among Palestinians, it rose slightly from 14 percent to 19 percent.

But one particular gain should sit well with the White House.

Most Muslim respondents in last year's Pew survey rated terrorism mastermind Osama bin Laden as highly or more highly than then-President Bush. Obama, however, commands more confidence than the al Qaeda leader.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. carlo

    I just read the poll to which you are referring and the numbers have shot up since he was elected everywhere but Israel. You know what? You guys are such tools.

    July 23, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Obama is elected, the world loves us now! NOT!

    Obama's military: 1000's of troops left in Iraq, 1000's to Afghanistan.
    More bombings, more hostage situations, more distrust of US.

    Maybe the Muslim community at large can see through a career politicain's nonsense and double speak better than the average US citizen.

    July 23, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    After 8 years of George W. Bush, our image has been damaged in the Muslim world. I'm sure we're viewed in a better light now that President Obama is in charge.

    July 23, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |