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. DoughBoy

    Why would the Muslim world distrust us? All we've done since WWII (when most Muslims countries received independence from Colonial powers) is support despotic regimes in their countries, labeled them in the axis of evil, supported wars in their countries, invaded their lands, demonized their populations, and tried to undermine populists leaders. And in regards to Israel, we've done our best to appease Palestinians, but they (the Palestinians) keep grabbing more and more land. I think the Muslim world better learn to appreciate all we've done; otherwise, we'll just bomb them back to the stone age (again).

    June 2, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  2. Champly

    Many of us are still waiting for President Obama to condemn the murder of a U.S. serviceman outside a military recruiting center on U.S. soil. Murdered by a convert to Islam. Where is Obama on this ? Where is CNN on this ?

    June 2, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  3. Fred the Moderate

    The problem is the extremist frame their actions as their religon vs the US. That will make people here believe that this is the true debate instead of the fact the extremist just want to be king in their country.

    June 2, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  4. Michael in Atlanta

    Perhaps we should also be asking what the Muslim world thinks of the US.

    Extremists come from every religion, culture and ethnicity tainting our perspective.

    An American citizen murdered a man in cold blood inside of a Church this past week. Should we hate ourselves?

    We must understand before we can ignore, hate and deny.

    June 2, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  5. Chris

    Muslim world is a world by itself, strange culture , cruel and untrustworthy. USA is trying to appease Muslims by their support
    for Bosnians and Albanians in Europe, Pakistanis and Turkey in Asia.

    You have to understand one think, no matter what good or bad you are doing in dealing them, they will always hate you and the one that you hurt in "protecting" them are also turning against you. In the process you are turning the "whole World" against you!

    June 2, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  6. Champly

    A mosque can be built in any almost any non-Muslim dominated country on the planet. Non-Muslim places of worship are severly restricted if not banned in Muslim controlled countrys.

    Try carrying a Bible into any one of the 30 or so Muslim controlled countrys.

    June 2, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  7. Chipster

    As long as the Muslim world continues to persecute anyone who is not Muslim and use such harsh punishment (severing hands for robbery, flogging women for daring to be raped, brutal punishment for offenses for which the women are not even allowed to defend themselves in court, and other such human rights violations and indignities; they will not receive a favorable reaction from people in free nations. Religious persecution and intolerance are simply not acceptable in nations that respect the rights of individuals to make their own personal choices.

    These actions are viewed as barbaric religious fanaticism by civilized societies. The treatment of animals in an Iraqi Zoo after the fall of Saddam Hussein was quite revealing. Brutality and cruelty for the sake of entertainment and a brief sense of power is nothing more than typical bullying by those who feel inferior and need a victim to make them feel stronger. It's sad, true, and pathetic.

    June 2, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  8. Adele

    I hold a very unfavorable view of Israel.

    June 2, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  9. gt

    ya think !!!! they treat thier women like cattle.. they have very little value for human life,,,, there belief of convert or die,,, has a lot to do on why americans distrust of that part of the world,,,,,

    June 2, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  10. Mari( maybe one of my comments will be posted)

    How sad. Since the Three Great Abrahamic Religions are:

    Islam.... Judaism ........ and Christianity! We are all brothers in God's eyes. Yet we hate each other.

    The 9/11 terrorists were all Saudi Arabians, a country whose "royalty" has been close friends of the Bush family for years.

    The GOP went on attack of President Obama after he smiled & shook Hugo Chavez's hand........ however..... the GOP forget that George W. Bush walked ...... hand-in-hand with the Saudis and KISSED them on both cheeks after 9/11!

    June 2, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  11. Leslie

    9/11 was a proof Muslims supported the attack against USA, they were silent. in Palestine, the people cheered when those terrorists attacked the twin tower and Pentagon. We didn't started it they did. Obama will be travelling to Saudi Arabia to pay hommage to his benefactor, the House of SAUD.

    In this interview with BBC, Obama AGREED for Iran to have NUCLEAR POWER. Just remember Obama already stated : " I will stand with the Muslims should the political wind shift in an ugly direction." Obama is now standing UP for Iran.

    What other proof the people need? OBAMA is a MUSLIM.
    When you're born a Muslim, you'll die as a Muslim.

    June 2, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  12. Bill or Vin from Philly

    I would like to see a poll on Israel

    June 2, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. dan in Tucson

    Maybe we don't see ourselves as being 'at war' with the Muslim world, but they do. And that is the core of the problem. What we need is more diplomats and less soldiers killing people. What a mess. Thank you Bush/Cheney for your legacy.

    June 2, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  14. Loup Garou 782

    It would be an act of futility for me to post my view or feelings toward the Muslim world, as CNN would most likely decide not to post it.

    June 2, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. Melissa

    It doesn't surprise me in the least. I'm a Canadian immigrant to the US and I haven't held a favorable view of the Muslim world for a long time. Especially with their entitlement behavior and trying to force other people to live by it. You sure don't hear any real public protests against the extremist agenda of many Muslims. Until we do, I don't trust them.

    June 2, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  16. Kentucky Muslim

    I find this to be disappointing, but not at all surprising. The news media, in general, tends to portray Muslims in a bad light, emphasizing those who act out of their own self-interests and, too often, violently. Every group has good and bad, but the bad Muslim is much more familiar than the good one. I always encourage those I know to look beyond the headlines.

    June 2, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. Hayden

    Interesting statistic. It seems that Obama wants to spend his time apologising to the Muslim countries and giving them concessions without asking for any concessions in return. Maybe he should stand up with as much vigor to totalitarian regimes in the Arabian Peninsula as he does to American's that he disagrees with.

    June 2, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  18. uh huh

    The predominantly muslim countries is where you suck their oil guys. Is this the reason why you voted twice for a guy who ruin one muslim world
    who has nothing to do with your 9-11 attacks. The republican really did a number in your thinking skills. You'll need reeducation.

    June 2, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  19. David

    Many Americans have never left the city and state they were born in. So their view of anyone outside of their postage stamp of a comfort zone, who does not look like them or think like them is 'feared'.

    You could do the same type poll here in America .

    The negative dramatization through the media, focusing on 'differences' between people based on race, religion, culture or economics has been a primary selling point for 'news' content. So until out media takes responsibility and present a complete picture, many Americans stuck on their 'postage stamp' will continue to believe what they are told.

    June 2, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  20. DJ Shorter

    This is no surprise. EXTREMISTS carry out 9/11 and Americans blame all Muslims, YET we don't want to be judged by extremists in this country. I guess home grown right-wing extremism is just fine, eh?

    June 2, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  21. skyhawkdriver

    Is there going to come a time when the opinions of americans about their own country matters??..poll after poll ask us about what another country thinks of the u.s...who really cares and why do pollsters continue to ask such foolish questions..it is time to put america first and time for president obama to stop apologizing for what makes this country great and it's people the mnost talented in the world

    June 2, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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