June 2nd, 2009
05:02 AM ET
8 years ago

CNN Poll: Many Americans hold unfavorable view of Muslim world

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Hours before President Barack Obama departs for a trip to the Middle East, a new national poll suggests that only one in five Americans has a favorable view of Muslim countries.

That compares to 46 percent of the people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey who say they have an unfavorable opinion of Muslim countries. That's up five points from 2002, when 41 percent indicated they had an unfavorable view.

Three in ten meanwhile say they have a neutral opinion of Muslim countries.

The poll also suggests that most Americans think people in Muslim countries don't think highly of the United States. Nearly eight in ten questioned say people in Muslim countries have a unfavorable opinion of the U.S., with 14 percent saying Muslims hold a favorable view.

But the poll indicates Americans seem to be split on whether such negative opinions by Muslims matter. Fifty-three percent of those questioned say they think Muslim views of the U.S. matter a great deal or a moderate amount, with 47 percent saying that Muslim opinions of the U.S. don't matter very much or at all.

The poll's release comes just hours before the president flies to Saudi Arabia for meetings with King Abdullah. Following the stop in Saudi Arabia, Obama heads to Egypt, where Thursday he'll deliver a long-awaited speech on relations between the United States and the Muslim world. At a town hall in Turkey earlier this year, the president delcared that "the United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam."

Americans seem to agree with the president: 62 percent of those surveyed say they don't think the U.S. is at war with the Muslim world, with 36 percent indicating that the country is at war with Muslim countries. Those numbers have remained stable since CNN's 2002 poll.

But the poll suggests that six out of ten think that the Muslim world considers itself at war with the U.S.

"The feeling seems to be mutual. We distrust Muslims. They distrust Americans. Views of Americans have not changed very much over the past seven years. There are some indications that Muslims' views of Americans have improved a bit since Barack Obama took office, but they are still not positive," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted May 14-17, with 1,010 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.


Filed under: CNN Polls
soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Shirley Vescovo

    The muslim beliefs compared to Christian beliefs are opposite in the absolute committments to JESUS CHRIST LORD as the christian Lord and master. We do not pratice death threats and cruel behavior to our enemies although God does bless those who must fight for the Christian beliefs because that is GOD>

    We are a Christian nation opposed to President Obama 's statement to appease the muslim nations which is wrong and opposes our constitiustion and the reason this nation was created.

    Why does President Obama want to compromise on our beliefs which holds this nation together?

    June 2, 2009 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
  2. aCorNN watchdog

    CNN logic.....polls=facts=news

    June 2, 2009 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  3. Sari

    This culture clash will resolve itself in time. As to how much time, nobody can be sure. I'd like to see full scale unbiased cultural anthropological studies done by the social scientists on both sides published, and continued from here until the conflict is resolved. I think it would be a powerful tool for the field overall.

    June 2, 2009 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  4. D. Tree

    Considering how often I read comments from people who think "We should just Nuke 'em" that is not surprising.

    Al Qeada wants conflict between the West and the Middle East, its part of their objective.

    Think of it this way: if you want Bin Laden and his associates to fail, then embrace the people of the Mideast. Become their friends. It is the ultimate way to defeat Al Qeada.

    I think the President's approach is 100% better than the old "war solves all" approach. We see how much that has helped: none.

    June 2, 2009 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  5. Charlie in Maine

    Yet another reason to actually declare war on the Taliban and Al Queda It would let the Muslim world know who we are at war against and inlist the help of all nations in the defeat of these two pilars of Anti- Islam. Another greay benefi is to make the Gitmo detainees prisinors of war which would equal No Torture (good news for them) and absolutely no resease until their side surrenders (great news for us). Not to mention that I as a liberal Democrat would buy war bonds to support a real war so I'm sure I would not be the only one.

    June 2, 2009 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  6. ramtruck2500

    My god i cant imagine how this apprehension of moslems could have started. Could it be thierincredible violence, raping of women and treating them like livestock? Any type of dissention is banned? It is a dark religion spread by violent cohersion. if given the choice remember the saying ' better red trhan dead' well thats kind of here they are at. I do not want them in my area period. And yes i see American calvinism/evagelism/Re[ublican religion in much the same light and I dont like them either. learn to live together without killing each other – wow there's a start!

    June 2, 2009 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  7. david

    muslim's their like the nizi's....they are all lumped togeather cause the let their official's tell them what to do instead of the people telling them what they want as a people....hell that sould's like us ....with the osama obama regime....

    June 2, 2009 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  8. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    By not controlling their extremist violent activities, they make Americans wonder if they are agianst terrorism or are they supporting terrorism against America. Some muslim countries are helping us but are they doing everything they could. That is what leaves the doubt.

    June 2, 2009 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  9. William

    Of course we have a negative opinion of Muslim countries. For my entire life they've been killing people in the name of Allah and have become increasing hostile to all non-Muslims. Some of this is the result of bad policy of Western nations, but a lot of it is because Muslim clerics have allowed Islam to become radicalized and politicized. Islam is supposed to be a pacifist religion and to make Jihad is to wage war on your own demons, not other people.

    June 2, 2009 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  10. david

    obama needs to stop kissing muslim behinds. what obama is doing is seen as a sign of weakness. muslim terrorists started the war, and obama apparently is ignorant of that fact. muslim nation states, muslims all over the world, have financially supported muslim terrorist activities. obama is either ignorant or lacks stones to stand with innocents, including american citizens, that have been slaughtered by muslims. obama should grow some stones and lead, follow or get out of the way. any enemy, even those that support the enemy, does not respect nor honor weakness and never has throughout recorded history. shame obama, shame, shame, shame.

    June 2, 2009 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  11. Candy West Virginia

    I'm more concerned about the conservative christian fundamentalist right in this country than I am about any muslim. Atleast the muslims don't go around bombing abortion clinics or killing doctors in the name of pro life.

    June 2, 2009 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  12. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It isn't a surprise to me. Look how many negative depictions we have of them and they of us. With the Muslim (and Arab) world's support for anti-Semitism, it isn't a huge surprise that they hate the West and the continued support (and needed) for Israel (the only truly free democracy in the region).

    The feelings aren't helped by two factors: 1 is that Hollywood has depecitced them as murders and terrorists (which is a lot of what we see in the news as well). The second point is that we never hear from the silent moderates who are telling people to live in peace. The moderates within the Muslim world need to speak up more.

    June 2, 2009 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  13. Mark Chamberlain

    To be a Muslim you must follow in the ways of Mohammed. Mohammed in his early years murdered, killed and slaughtered the innocents and to appease his troops after battle he allowed them to take the women folk as war booty as long as they agreed Mohammed could take a % of each mans booty. Mohammed as is written in Hadith and quranic script kidnapped his own female booty and took her to his tent and raped her. I dont follow anyone who conducts vile disgusting acts like this and I wouldnt trust them as far as I could spit. It is only through education you will find the truth and I`m sorry to say, after spending 5 months in the US last year, Americans dont know what is going on in the next street never mind another country when it comes down to international relations and the wars we fight together. As a proud Englishman, I warn America, be on your guard. I first moved to the Middle East (Abu Dhabi, UAE) in 1978 and have been in and out of the regions ever since, living in Baghdad, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Afghanistan etc etc.. I am a student of Islam and I can state that until the media wakes up and treats Islam as an Idealogical and political system which wishes to take over and rule the world, then I am sorry, we will all pay the price for that mistake.

    June 2, 2009 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  14. The Party of NO is only “pro-life” to save a zygote now, so it can then kill the “babies” 18 years later as soldiers in an elective religious war.

    It is more important what the Muslim countries think of us than what we Americans think of them.

    That is why President Obama's scheduled "apology tour"(as it will be billed by the Party of NO on this blog) to Egypt and the area so we can begin to assure the Muslim countries that we are not afraid nor do we hate 95% of the globe's Muslims.

    Maybe that 95% will join in and help us fight the 5% if President Obama does not condemn all Muslims for the actions of a few and indicate "you are either with us or against us" attitude of the shrub.

    Maybe President Obama's talking to the "enemy" will actually be a down payment on the peace dividend..

    June 2, 2009 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  15. BK

    Ya think? This is not news; it's a BFO–blinding flash of the obvious.

    June 2, 2009 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  16. The Party of NO is only “pro-life” to save a zygote now, so it can then kill the “babies” 18 years later as soldiers in an elective religious war.

    It is more important what the Muslim countries think of us than what we Americans think of them.

    That is why President Obama's scheduled "apology tour"(as it will be billed by the Party of NO on this blog) to Egypt and the area so we can begin to assure the Muslim countries that we are not afraid nor do we hate 95% of the globe's Muslims.

    Maybe that 95% will join in and help us fight the 5% if President Obama does not condemn all Muslims for the actions of a few and rejects the "you are either with us or against us" attitude of the shrub.

    Maybe President Obama's talking to the "enemy" will actually be a down payment on the peace dividend..

    June 2, 2009 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  17. steve

    When are we going to hear the wireless transcript of the conversation between Sen Durbin and Ex-Gov Blago regarding the appointment of Lisa Madigan for the senate seat.
    While we are on it, lets hope we hear the conversation between Harry Reid and Blago pressuring him to not appoint a black person.
    Meanwhile, we are constantly fed by the media with the transcript of Sen Burris and Blago.
    Is this a case of selective witch hunt of a minority senator?

    June 2, 2009 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  18. The Party of NO is only “pro-life” to save a zygote now, so it can then kill the “babies” 18 years later as soldiers in an elective religious war.

    It is more important what the Muslim countries think of us than what we Americans think of them. That is why President Obama's scheduled "apology tour"(as it will be billed by the Party of NO on this blog) to Egypt and the area so we can begin to assure the Muslim countries that we are not afraid nor do we hate 95% of the globe's Muslims.

    Maybe that 95% will join in and help us fight the 5% if President Obama does not condemn all Muslims for the actions of a few and rejects the "you are either with us or against us" attitude of the shrub.

    Maybe President Obama's talking to the "enemy" will actually be a down payment on the peace dividend..

    June 2, 2009 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  19. Keith in Austin

    Many Americans held an unfavorable view of the Japanese after Pearl Harbor too. Is the current view of the Muslim World that big of a surprise?

    June 2, 2009 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  20. Goodson

    We must achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the era of permanent friendship is gone, we must now push forward our permanent interest, we have paid enough for the middle-east conflict and it's time to be an honest broker.
    I support Obama's pressure on Israel and the palestinians, if our economy collapses under the weight of this crisis, we are to blame.

    June 2, 2009 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  21. Cheese

    Does this include our Muslim president?

    June 2, 2009 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  22. Dawn in Pa

    I believe that people in this country will always remember 911, but not all terrorist is Muslims, and not all Muslims is terrorist. People who study Islam, say it is a beautiful religion. All of the terrorist are not very religious, just like here in the US when our people join cults, they are delusional. I am not giving the terrorist a green light, I had seen a documentary on these radical Muslims and they had compared them to the cults that people had join. One comes to mind, Jim Jones and Jonestown.

    June 2, 2009 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  23. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    The republican right worries me far more than any muslim. The republican right has become more of a cult and terroristic group than a political party. They offer no solutions, ideas or constructive comments, just constant opposition. They don't care about this country and even less about it's people and they just care about remaining in power and the rich. All of this and more is why I can no longer with a clear conscience call myself a republican and I doubt I ever will in this lifetime. I support our president and all that he is trying to do because atleast he is trying to rebuild this country and not destroy it like bush did.

    June 2, 2009 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  24. Fred

    Who cares, they hold an unfavorable view of us. I'm as fair minded an individual as you will find, but we shouldn't go out of our way to try to appease people in a culture that despises us. Sure they are good people in that part of the world, but they allow the radicals to be the dominant voice.

    June 2, 2009 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
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