Surprising Results from Survey of Saudis about Terrorism, America

This link is to a pdf file.
In November and December Terror Free Tomorrow conducted a survey of 1004 Saudi adults.

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to its holiest places. It is also the
home country of Osama Bin Laden and 15 of the 19 9/11 terrorists.
Yet, Bin Laden’s fellow countrymen have dramatically turned against him, his organization of Al Qaeda, Saudi fighters in Iraq, and terrorism itself. And they have also equally dramatically turned in favor of Bin Laden’s chief enemy: The United States of America.
The people of Saudi Arabia are now among the most pro-American and anti-terrorist
of any in the entire Muslim world.

Fully 69 percent of Saudis surveyed support strong and close relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

In fact, considering the most populous Muslim countries of the world, Saudis are
among the most favorable to the United States. While currently half have an unfavorable opinion, 40 percent of Saudis expressed a favorable opinion of the U. S.
This is a turnaround from just a year and a half ago. During May 2006, a smaller and more limited public opinion survey by Terror Free Tomorrow showed only 11 percent of Saudis had a favorable opinion of the United States. That percentage has now more than tripled, while unfavorable ratings have dropped from 89 percent to half.

On Iraq, while Saudi citizens have been reported by the American military to comprise up to half of the foreign suicide bombers in Iraq, the Saudi public itself is strongly
opposed to any Saudis fighting in Iraq and support working with the United States to help resolve the Iraq war instead.

Less than one in ten Saudis have a favorable opinion of Al Qaeda, and 88 percent
approve the Saudi military and police pursuing Al Qaeda fighters. Only 15 percent of Saudis have a favorable opinion of Bin Laden himself.
Upon closer analysis, however, even a favorable opinion of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda does not indicate hardened anti-American attitudes or support for terrorist attacks.

The idea of supporting Al Qaeda or Bin Laden does not equate with backing actual
terrorist attacks. Nor does it mean immutable anti-American views. Saudis reject terrorism and are not clamoring for radical rule from Bin Laden and Al Qaeda; rather, for better relations with the United States.

Overall, the survey shows that Saudis are divided and struggling over the future
direction of their country. When asked to choose the most important priorities for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 93 percent picked reducing unemployment and inflation, followed by addressing the problem of terrorism (88 percent); providing financial assistance to foreign mosques (81 percent); ensuring a free press and free elections (80 percent); defeating Al Qaeda and other Jihadi groups (61 percent) and permitting women to drive (43 percent).

Similarly, while only 43 percent thought permitting women to drive was important,
just 15 percent of Saudis surveyed agreed with the recent sentence of 200 lashes and six months imprisonment given to a 19-year old Shiite girl for being with a male acquaintance before she was gang-raped by seven men.
Likewise, 80 percent of Saudis chose ensuring a free press and free elections as an important priority for their government at the same time 79 support an absolute monarchy. Support for King Abdullah is also very high, with 95 percent of Saudis saying they have a favorable opinion of the current Saudi monarch.

The pdf file I linked to has all the charts and info you could want.

Seems like a positive sign to me.


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Filed under arab, arabian, arabist, Islamic relations, Saudi Arabia

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