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. J.Crobuzon

    You mean they DON'T eat babies for breakfast in Muslim countries? Gosh. But I heard it in church!

    June 2, 2009 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  2. brian

    they beat women.

    June 2, 2009 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  3. Steve

    Of course you're right. That's why they elected a muslim president. Duh??!?

    June 2, 2009 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  4. Rick

    Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad's killing of a U.S. soldier at a recruiting station in Arkansas yesterday doesn't help.

    June 2, 2009 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  5. Fitz in Texas

    My guess is Obama is one of those 1 in 5 that have a favorable view of the Muslim countries.

    "Americans think people in Muslim countries don't think highly of the United States"..............A better word here would be Muslim countries HATE the United States. A family friend who's had to travel to Muslim countries often tells us that we can't even begin to understand just how much Muslim counties hate the United States and her people. There's only one thing they want and that is to destroy us. With this President I fear they may just do that, destroy us, unless Obama beats them to the punch.

    June 2, 2009 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  6. bert

    It's hard not to have an unfavorable view of a people who are trying to kill you.
    If you want to test the therory, go to a muslim country and ware a pro – America shirt while you are touring the city. If you make it back alive you can tell us then how you feel about muslim countries and how you think they feel about us.

    June 2, 2009 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  7. Mamanomia

    That is too bad...unfortunate and narrow minded..Must we remind people that violence isn't limited to a particular philosophy/belief system..I point to the unfortunate and sad killing of the doctor this past weekend in a Lutheran church. A reverse poll about Americans would be more damning in more than just Muslim countries currently.
    We need to clean up our act and be more concerned about humanity and respect diversity.

    June 2, 2009 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  8. dave

    huh. that's pretty amazing that the sheeple aren't following what obama said. the firmware updates really aren't working now are they?

    June 2, 2009 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  9. David in Houston

    Too many people believe the fanatical acts of a few represent the collective belief of the whole.

    June 2, 2009 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  10. R in Maine

    Why would it be surprising if a people have "bad" view of another country or people when that people and their religion calls for elimination of another country or people? That is why other countries do not have a favorable opinion of Bush and Cheney, and we do not have a favorable opinion of Muslims.

    June 2, 2009 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  11. Old Farmboy

    Here's one that will probably see the great CNN axe of fate but here goes anywho...

    Most people really don't know what to think about the Muslim countries because they've never been there. Think about it, all we see from the media about a Muslim country is where something bad has happened. Good things about them isn't news worthy so why report it. Yes, there are radical muslims that cause the news we see, but is that what creates the backbone of what a Muslim country is? I don't think so. Opinions can be biased based on what they know. If the only part that you know is the negative, then that's they way you will feel about anything.

    June 2, 2009 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  12. Barbara Campbell

    Congratulations to the Bush administration for successfully manufacturing a global enemy. This allowed the neocons to keep us in a permanent state of war, permitting them to suspend civil liberties, expand executive power, and transfer huge sums from the U.S. Treasury into the pockets of their military-industrial cronies.

    June 2, 2009 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  13. Joe

    And a poll was needed to know these things? Someone has way too much time on their hands.

    June 2, 2009 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  14. Jake

    how embarassing!

    we have the Bush administration to thank for that.

    June 2, 2009 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  15. Hakeem Muhammad

    As a 20 Veteran who is a African-American Muslim I just have to say its a shame how this is twisted on both sides. The past administration (Rumsfield, Cheney, others), the media and rights wing Christian groups have spread fear in americans lives by spreading miss-information. Just as well some so called Muslims have used the Holy Quran to spread fear and claims that they are justified to do violent acts in the name of "GOD". The key is proper "COMMUNICATION".

    June 2, 2009 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  16. RAG

    This is because of the constant drumbeat of bigotry from Konservative Kolumnist Klan, reprehensable self-serving propoganda machine of the Cheney / Bush criminals, and a colaborationist press selling soap with fear.

    The Muslim world is different. They have a different world view. In general they have a different view of the place of church and state than the west. They also adhere to a religion that is law-based rather than redemption based. This makes thenm different that most Americans (Southern Baptists aside...).

    Different is not bad, its just different. Any movement has extremes. The extremes do not define the whole. Osama Bin Laden has as much to do with Islam as Randall Terry has with Christianity.

    Read history, read the Quran in translation, learn the truth, talk to Muslims. Don't let those who wish to control you though unreasoned fear program you.

    June 2, 2009 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  17. panem et circenses

    Ya think?

    Why isn't CNN covering the shooting of the army recruiter in Little Rock? Because a radical Muslim convert who trained in Yemen did the shooting for "religious and political" reasons. If this were covered then the American people might be informed and disapprove of Obama's impersonation of Mr. Rogers (won't you be my neighbor) this week as he travels around the Middle East on the World Apology Tour II.

    The guy drives up in front of the recruiting office and opens fire wounding 1 and killing another and there is not a word about it on the site.

    CNN – this is outrageous!

    June 2, 2009 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  18. TM in CO

    Why do we have to be the world police? Why do we have bases on foreign soil? I don't see any foreign bases on US soil. Bobby Kennedy said it best when he said "Each country has a right to it's own destination". Maybe if the US minded it's own business and started taking care of it's own citizens/issues instead of trying to run the world and tell others how they should run their countries, we wouldn't have to worry about terrorists. Geez what a novel idea.

    June 2, 2009 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  19. dreamer

    Easy one to awser.christians,jews,and muslims have been fighting each other for centuries.So whats new?

    June 2, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  20. a southern progressive

    now those are some disgusting and disturbing results from a "christian" nation..... but then again, religious christians usually dont practice what they preach.

    June 2, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  21. PJ

    Is it any wonder that we do? The more vociferous muslims hate us enough to commit acts of terrorism and murder of innocent people just out of pure hatred. It has cost them a big price too. I view all muslims as potential terrorists due to the violent and intolerant view of their religion. It often teaches hate and intolerance and it has to be their way or the sword. I also think that they are secretly agreeing with all of this terrorist activity. I don't trust them.

    June 2, 2009 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  22. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    With America's long history of attacking and invading Muslim countries, and installing pliable dictators there who terrorize their own people, and we have the gall to feel uppity about Muslims NOT liking US?! Over one MILLION Iraqis have died so the US could try to control their oil...and we have a negative view of THEM? Give me a break!

    June 2, 2009 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  23. Independent

    Don't you people get tired of always doing these polls???? Funny, I'm never been called.....Must of be on the do not call list.....

    June 2, 2009 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  24. fredrick amukonyi

    Yes, it's true. These is because they don't understand Islam, and the few knowledge they have a bout these religion is most of the time negative. President is on the right cause, but i believe Islamic should be taught in schools, to give people the idea, knowedge and facts a bout Islam.

    June 2, 2009 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  25. Whatever...

    Well, this is not so surprising. This is a region of the world where decapitation is a legitimate form of punishment and sometimes videotaped; women have no gender equality and are oppressed by gender bias in the least and systematic misogyny in the worst; the idea of the seperation of church and state is flat out rejected by most. I mean, a woman in Saudi Arabia is buried up to her head and stoned to death for adultery. What's to like?

    In the U.S. we need to handle our freedom better, no doubt. Our children are sexualized, we think education is elitist and we are greedy but regardless the Middle East needs to REFORM NOW!! The 10th century causes the world too many problems.

    June 2, 2009 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
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