June 2nd, 2009
05:02 AM ET
10 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. Eileen

    Well it couldn't be that unfavorable after all they just elected Barack Hussein Obama to the white house. Big mistake.

    June 2, 2009 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  2. JonDie

    Many Americans are ignorant and, therefore, easily manipulated by the Party of Fear and Deceit (the GOP). In fact, we Americans are probably *the* most ignorant educated people in the entire world.

    June 2, 2009 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  3. AmFem

    It's very common for people to fear what they know nothing about. Add that to the Republican "Fear Campaign" and it's shouldn't be surprising that many Americans feel this way. Educate yourselves America! Knowledge is power! Then you won't be so easily fall for the BS of Cheney, O'Reilly, Hannity and Limbaugh.

    June 2, 2009 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  4. Larry of Massachusetts

    MI am sure there are good muslims and bad muslims like any religion, but it seems that Muslims in general are less tolerant of other religions, particularly Christians, or the infidels as they call them. I believe that Muslims are far worse when it comes to women;s rights, and their disciplinary practices are beneath human decency in many ways. The lack of womens' rights is particularly morbid in leading edge countries like Saudi Arabia, India, and Pakistan where women are still deemed second class. As far as morals, I do not find Muslims more religious, rather they are more fanatical. For the countless millions of Muslims who rioted, pillaged, and killed just becsue of a cartoon is both despicble and unholy. Sorry guys – but you are pathetic when you do stupid things like that over a cartoon, and then go back to your lives of sin and corruption.

    June 2, 2009 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  5. DebM, Allentown, PA

    Is it any wonder? We're constantly inundated with television shows and motion pictures portraying Muslims as the bad guys. The Bush Administration seemed to lump all Muslim countries together in a position of "if you're Muslim, you must be an Al Qaeda supporter".

    Remember, before 9/11, the worst act of terrorism in the United States came courtesy of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols – right-wing domestic terrorists, a la the Tiller assassin. Why aren't they vilified more vehemently??

    June 2, 2009 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  6. Terry

    Many Americans do not understand the Muslim World. There are extremest views within any society, and we Americans can recall Oklahoma City and the net effect of extremism in America. Throughout the world, there are many people who believe the citizens of the United States have it far to easy, due to the strength of our economy over the last sixtys years. While it is hard to understand the religious beliefs of others, or the societal differences in foreign lands, we need to open our minds and hearts to people who are different than we are, and perhaps we will learn more about what they think of us, and we can adjust the way we present America.

    June 2, 2009 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  7. Kenyan Wonder Kid

    Yeah, it's amazing what a little set of harmless acts such as killing 3000 innocent Americans, beheading dozens on video, blowing up children, creating almost every war (state and civil) around the world, enslaving women, implementing Sharia Law, and generally behaving as sub-humans from thousands of years ago will do to your reputation!

    Never worry, Muslim-raised Obama is trying his hardest (and with breathtaking success) to improve the status of radical Islam to "most favored religion".

    June 2, 2009 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  8. proud army navy mom

    i doubt your poll is accurate. If the question would have been are we ignorant about the Muslin community, the numbers would have been more accurate.

    Sometimes it's not the answer that important, it is the question.

    June 2, 2009 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  9. Pamela

    Can't Cheney just go somewhere and let the commander in chief run the country. They are just scared, because President Obama is cleaning up their mess and revealing all of their misdoings. You don't see former President Bush making any waves do you?

    June 2, 2009 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  10. Marijulie

    No kidding? Can't imagine why!!!!!

    June 2, 2009 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  11. A. Goodwin

    Well – the Bush/Cheney clan certainly didn't help our opinions of the Muslim world. They so successfully applied the model of racism we've had on black people to those of Muslim decent.

    Disgusting...pure disgusting.

    I have faith that our current President will continue to break down this mental block that the Rethuglican's have created. American's USED to be about inclusiveness...about all people coming together. For the last 8 years, we've been told to fear...to worry...to watch at the security alerts go from yellow to red. I hope that we American's can get back to our fundamental values – that we truly are the melting pot. Otherwise, we are just a bunch of hypocritical bigots who have no pride.

    June 2, 2009 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  12. Lolbama

    If only there groups of muslims that spoke out against terrorism by muslims, I'd be a little less negative toward muslims. They are breeding Europe into a muslim state so it's just a matter of time before what US Americans think about them becomes completely irrelevant. Anyhow with Obama dangling the shiny object in front of everyone via talking up the bs, he is naturally helping any way he can.

    June 2, 2009 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  13. machtim akannah

    Here we go again. Obama is going to apologize to the Muslim world because of our success and US standard of living. Not everything is perfect in the US, but there is no other place in the world I would rather be. The worst day in the US is better than the best days in most of the Muslim world. I am not aware that any Judeo-Christian religious leader preaches hate against the Muslims or their religion. On the other hand, at least based upon media coverage, hate of the US and Christian theology is a norm in many Mosques. Yes, we do have our problems with religious fanatics like Obama's former minister Reverend Wright, but his is more of an anomaly than mainstream thought.

    June 2, 2009 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  14. dominican mama 4 Obama

    There is such a marked cultural and "values" difference between the Western world and the Muslim community. I wholeheartedly appreciate the President's attempts at being inclusive in establishing relations with this part of the world. There is much that we don't know/understand about Muslims, and vice versa. Quite frankly our President's middle name, Hussein, can only be a plus in developing an honest dialogue between two different ideologies. At the risk of sounding "racist" (a la Sotomayor) Muslims might be more open to him than to say a Dickie, or Dubya.

    June 2, 2009 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  15. strong

    The Muslims come across as too fanatical., unstable.

    Or are we just brainwashed? Who knows.

    June 2, 2009 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  16. Big red shoes

    That is because they are ignorant to many facts and the media plays a big part. I lived in a muslim country for 15 months and found them to be like anyone else.

    June 2, 2009 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  17. Steve from OH

    Isn't Obama supposed to be CREATING jobs? 20,000 more people laid off as GM folds. That makes the 52 people hired to patch a stretch of highway in Rhode Island look like beans.

    June 2, 2009 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  18. No To Obama

    well you got Obama and then some guy who changes his name, follows Obama and Islam then goes into a recruiting office and shoots our troops, you think we have bad feelings, YEA. Obama has caused all this by playing up to the muslims and islam and down playing christianity and its time for Obama to get his mind right and work for America not for himself and his muslim nation.

    June 2, 2009 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  19. Woeful

    I believe the reasons why Americans feel unsure about Muslims is because they (Muslims) appear to have done very little to stop the terror that perfuses out of Muslim countries. I would say guilt by association at this point. Also when your country is attacked by a certain sect of people, that sect will carry a negative connotation for many years to come. I will be honest with you, when I see someone who appears to be Muslim, my awareness is hightened. The same thing happened with people who appeared to be German during the Hitler era.

    June 2, 2009 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  20. Scott

    Why don't we get to comment on Dick Cheney? He gets to rewrite history and bring us back to the Republican land of make believe, and we don't get to call him on it? Come on CNN, have a stomach. Cheney's been playing the part of the great Oz for the last 8 yrs and now he misses it, end of story.

    June 2, 2009 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  21. Grahame

    It's all true. Thank you Bush/Chaney and all the gang. it's going to take generations to fix. After all we all live in the same world.

    June 2, 2009 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  22. mike

    Come on people lets be honest,the reason republicans are dead set against abortion is because 85percent of the women who gets abortions are white women,there was 1.2million abortions performed last year,out of that 1million of those abortions was white women,since roe vs wade was overturned white women have had 32million abortions,minorities only 5million.white people are 62percent of the population in america,if roe vs wade wasnt overturned white people would have been 70percent of the population today,thats a hudge difference,in the republicans knows it,so i wish the mainstream media along with the republican party would be honest in just tell the truth,that the only reason they care about this abortion issue is because the white population is shrinking at an unbelievable rate,now if minorities was having 85percent of the abortions,the media or the republicans wouldnot care about abortion,in fact the republicans would be pro-abortion just think about it people.

    June 2, 2009 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  23. DOC

    Considering all of the anti-Muslim propaganda in America I'm not surprised.

    June 2, 2009 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  24. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    We may not be at war with Islam, but Islam is certainly at war with us. I still remember my outrage when the news showed Muslims dancing in the streets celebrating after 9/11. It's them or us, and the sooner Obama realizes that, the safer we'll be.

    June 2, 2009 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  25. Tom C in NY

    There is no singular "Muslem world" so the very premise of this poll is misleading. Anyway, we are one world and everyone on it needs to strive to be good global citizens. People also need to open themselves up to cultural differences and to learn that not everyone necessarily thinks and acts as they do.

    June 2, 2009 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
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