Do Muslims support violence and terror?

Dean Rohrer

Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria. 

The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified." 

Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries - Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Terror Free Tomorrow, the organization I lead, found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are "never justified"; in Pakistan, that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh, 81 percent. 

Do these findings mean that Americans are closet terrorist sympathizers?

Hardly. Yet, far too often, Americans and other Westerners seem willing to draw that conclusion about Muslims. Public opinion surveys in the United States and Europe show that nearly half of Westerners associate Islam with violence and Muslims with terrorists. Given the many radicals who commit violence in the name of Islam around the world, that's an understandable polling result. 

But these stereotypes, affirmed by simplistic media coverage and many radicals themselves, are not supported by the facts - and they are detrimental to the war on terror. When the West wrongly attributes radical views to all of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, it perpetuates a myth that has the very real effect of marginalizing critical allies in the war on terror. 

Indeed, the far-too-frequent stereotyping of Muslims serves only to reinforce the radical appeal of the small minority of Muslims who peddle hatred of the West and others as authentic religious practice. 

Terror Free Tomorrow's 20-plus surveys of Muslim countries in the past two years reveal another surprise: Even among the minority who indicated support for terrorist attacks and Osama bin Laden, most overwhelmingly approved of specific American actions in their own countries. For example, 71 percent of bin Laden supporters in Indonesia and 79 percent in Pakistan said they thought more favorably of the United States as a result of American humanitarian assistance in their countries - not exactly the profile of hard-core terrorist sympathizers. For most people, their professed support of terrorism/bin Laden can be more accurately characterized as a kind of "protest vote" against current US foreign policies, not as a deeply held religious conviction or even an inherently anti- American or anti-Western view. 

In truth, the common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews. Whether recruits to violent causes join gangs in Los Angeles or terrorist cells in Lahore, the enemy is the violence they exalt. 

Our surveys show that not only do Muslims reject terrorism as much if not more than Americans, but even those who are sympathetic to radical ideology can be won over by positive American actions that promote goodwill and offer real hope. 

America's goal, in partnership with Muslim public opinion, should be to defeat terrorists by isolating them from their own societies. The most effective policies to achieve that goal are the ones that build on our common humanity. And we can start by recognizing that Muslims throughout the world want peace as much as Americans do. 

Kenneth Ballen is founder and president of Terror Free Tomorrow, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to finding effective policies that win popular support away from global terrorists.

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Older Comments:
Note to Kris:

If you read my note carefully, I use the term 'values'. And, everybody knows, 'values' are always subjective, never objective. A muslim may not find any value in a skinny-clad woman walking on the street; but in US, it is valued as freedom.

Yes, whatever contributions by Islam, in my 'values' has no value; they were destructive (especially in India); just like, muslims these days consider western values of freedom, democracy, secularism, man-made laws as destructive.

You accept what you read; I don't; I think and evaluate and then form my opinions, which can be materially different than opinins of others. No, I don't believe in Public Relations, being nice for the sake of not offending somebody is called Public Relations. If I offend somebody, I say, that is his problem, not mine.

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all.

It seems that Romesh has no objectivity in evaluating hisrory. I never denied contributions of the British in Malaysia. They left a good strata of civil service, a judiciary and a westminister style of legislative parliament. And we got our independence without a single blood shed.

But Malaysians, after independence could improve on it and we did it, yes. With success. For instance we upgraded our civil service and today many third world countries sent their officers to study the success of our government services. We introduced various aspects of Islamic law which became models for other Muslim countries. We propogate and advocated Islamic economics in our banking whilst at the same time we do not disrupt the conventional banking system. We introduced Islamic insurances which provides alternative for Muslims.

But I don't condemn what good was left behind by earlier British. Look, this debate with a fickle minded and unobjective individuals in Romesh is getting nobody to nowhere. Do the French deny the contributions of Islam to Europe and civilization ? No, and I have excerpts of a speech by Napolean Bonarparte on Islam in one of his books but of course my best bet is Romesh has never read the book. France, under Napolean do recognise the contribution of Islam to world civilization. He mentioned it in one chapter which I will reveal later. I'm surprise that out of date historian like Romesh Chander have no knowledge of those, of course he won't admit it.

So go ahead Romesh, form which ever opinion you want while the rest of the academic world deny your findings.

And you don't have to tell Muslims how to judge their history.

(CORRECTED by Romesh Chander)

Note to Kris:

I am NOT denying history. I have a viewpoint which is different than yours.

You may call "Islamic Builders" in India; I call them "Islamic Destroyers". My values (and criteria) are different than yours, just like your values did not match when you were in the west. I don't think you will find contributions of France to Islam as laudable when North Africa was colonized by the French or Malyasia was colonized by the British (though French and British think otherwise). Same way, I have little or no respect for muslim contribution to India.

Note to Kris:

I am denying history. I have a viewpoint which is different than yours.

You may call "Islamic Builders" in India; I call them "Islamic Destroyers". My values (and criteria) are different than yours, just like your values did not match when you were in the west. I don't think you will find contributions of France to Islam as laudable when North Africa was colonized by the French or Malyasia was colonized by the British. Same way, I have little or no respect for muslim contribution to India.

I totally disagree that Muslims are terrorist. Muslims are peace
loving and hate violence. But some extremist express their feels/
outbrust through wrong interpretation and deeds harmful to
civilised human society. But this microscopic percentage are in
every religion and society.

Assalamualikum wrbt and greetings to all.

Dear Hoffman, I am moved by your admission that the more you study about Islam, the more you want to be part of it. How i wish I could contribute to your quest and understanding but geographical distance had limited my aims and intentions. But via e mail here in this post I wish to recommend good books like " The Quran, the Bible and Science " by Dr. Maurice Buccaille, " Islam - our choive " by Ebrahim Ahmed Bawany ". I do reccomend Syed Abu Ala maududi books as well but i don't remember too well their titles.

I love reading Islam - our choice because it complied various experiences of Europeans and westerners, including military generals, statesmen, diplomats, writers and academicians on what led them to embrace the faith and to embrace the love of the One True GOD, ALLAH SWT.

Islam is a simple and practical religion without any myth and mythology, but let me guess here that perhaps in your present quest to know about Islam, you may have become more learned than I am.

Yes, Islam emphasise on forgiveness and do not be swayed by the actions of a few individual Muslims and above all the global mainstream media that associates Islam with violence. In Islam and being a Muslim one will come to better terms with the LORD, his fellow human beings and the world around him. Because Islam emphasise on the life in this world and the after life, one will be more serene in the hearts. Yes, this life in this world is important but it is not forever.

Believing in the after life gives one strength and security, because knowing that GOD as the Most Supreme Judge, will accord the Rahmah for all noble deeds. That's why a true Muslim will not fear old age, he or she will not have the anxiety of loving the glory of this world and neither he or she will be sad to leave all the material gains that the world has to offer or had offered.
In other words a true Muslim will have peace with his Creator.

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all.

Dear Romesh, please stop denying history. Infact in all your previous post you had this acumen for historical facts and events, although I have and I hold reservations in some of them.

Why are you unhappy with the fact that Muslims in the previous history of glorious India were builders of that country. Why ?

You should thank them and appreciate past Muslim rulers of India for the gift of civilization and construction of that country.

Do not be selective in your historical analysis.

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all.

I wish to appreciate Mr. Hoffman's view and the well researched and detailed article by the author of this article. I echoed Hoffman's opinion and I believe that all faith can co -exist in harmony. I am a Muslim but I had my early years of education in the elementary and High school level at Christian misionary run school. It was managed by reverends, that of the Roman Catholic faith, nevertheless the priests who administered the school displayed fair mindedness and objectivity. There was no apparent discrimination of any sorts. Infact they ensure that Islamic based programmes were a success, including the aspects of funding. The prayer room for Muslim students was allocated with Quran and other religious books stored.

When I continued with further academic quest overseas, in the university I had committed American lecturers and Jewish friends. On the occassion of Eidil Fitri, they would attend Muslim students functions. There was an atmosphere of goodwill and harmony, no one look at anybody with suspicion. But those were the days of " Roses and Innoncence ".

Now, after the post September 11 event, there was this avalanche of biasness and resentment against Muslims, just because of a handful few. If any body were to use that as the barometer for measuring faith, then I suppose all faith preaches violence because there would be isolated cases of attacks, killing and bloodshed, all in the name of religion and whatever causes it may be.

Thank you Hoffman, and I wish that all westerners would have the same line of thinking as him. Yes, it was the Muslim that was the true builders of India, they brought civilization to the country. And in regards to Spain, yes, it was during the rule of the Muslims that Spain was taken out of it's dark age. Muslim inventers, innovators, architects all contributed to the development of Spain and Europe as well and to the world at large. Let's not deny history.

Romesh Chander, I really do believe that you are a heavily misguided in assuming that I am trying to convince you of anything. Frankly I do not care if you believe in 100 or 1,000,000 gods. Neither do I care about your .. Hindu nationalist assertions. You seem even more concerned about what Muslims have lost than any Muslim I know. From my numerous discussions with Muslims, I discovered that generally, Muslims don't give a hoot either. It's only dithering busybodies like yourself who seem to be hell bent on trying to interpret Islam and Islamic history for Muslims, What? Notwithstanding Islamic norms of civilised behaviour, ... Though not a Muslim yet, I think I can safely state that most Muslims would tell you to keep your snide sarcasm and your Hindu agendas to yourself. Believe whatever you wish to believe Mr. Chander, it's a free world - unless you happen to be in G. W. Bush's world.

Reading a stat from the CSMonitor article,, before the 1979 Revolution, there were 100,000 Jews in Iran.
After 20 years, there were 40,000 Jews in Iran.
Most of them emigrated after the revolution.

However, the article states: "Like other minorities, many Iranian Jews feared an uncertain future, although their religious rights were enshrined in the Constitution. Nevertheless, Iran's Jewish community remains the largest in the Middle East outside of Israel, and human rights activists confirm that members are not persecuted because of their religion."

How does one reconcile the massive emigration yet Jews are still tolerated in Iran? Although this article pre-dates statements by Ahmadinajad about his Holocaust denial.

Mr. Hoffman,

Dude, calm down, man. I only wanted to present an opposing view to your sometimes passionate bias against Christianity. I am not an elitist by far, and I don't know how you can insinuate such a claim from my only three short paragraphs of rebuttal. I never attended an Ivy-league institution and I am not a scholar of history or theology, so please refrain from your personal attacks and act civil.
Civility and humility goes a long way, Mr. Hoffman, and I would hope you are studying up on your teachings of Sufism and Rumi so that we may have peaceful dialogue together.
Anyways, I laugh at the hypocrisy by bible belt clerics that parade around middle America. Did you here about the one from Denver who got caught buying drugs from his male prostitute?
I have learned quite a bit of history just reading your comments and I appreciate the knowledge that you dispense. However, it would be a shame that it goes to waste by vilifying others thus discrediting your integrity.
I don't know how you derived I was trying to promote the concept of 'Christian Love.' Perhaps you haven't read that part in the Islamic scripture about how to correct your fellow man without putting him down.
No one is denying what the US troops are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is appalling and many innocent Muslims lives are being lost, and that they shouldn't be there in the first place.
Being raised as a Muslim in the U.S., I have never lived under fear and never felt harassed when I tell people I am a Muslim. I am currently not practicing, and haven't even prayed 5x a week, let alone 5x a day. That's a different issue.
But question I have for you is how can you defend Iran a great place for Jews when freedom of speech is forbidden and newspapers are shut down? When forming a political party or questioning the nuclear energy issue lands you in jail, I wouldn't want to live in such an opressed environment.


Note to Hoffman:

You write "Muslim conquerors in India were famous as "Builders" and not "Destroyers".

Well, let us ASSUME and reverse the situation -- i.e., if Hindus had conquered Arabia and other muslim lands, and were "Builders" and not "Destroyers". Would you have liked it? Would you have called it "Hindu" love? I don't think I need to answer that.

Don't expect me to thank you for bringing 'civilization' to India. We were happy without it; we can live without it.

Remember, muslims have still not recovered from loss of Spain and Balkans; those regions certainly don't give any thanks to muslims and its islamic influence.

Remember, it is very difficult to be objective; I have read several of your posts over weeks. They have one common thread -- I find them nothing but boiler-plate material, and totally unconvincing.

Romesh Chander, Muslim conquerors in India were famous as "Builders" and not "Destroyers"- a word better applied to the behaviour of US, UK and Israeli occupiers of Muslim property, and sadly also applies to the present treatment of Kashmeree Muslims by the Indian government. Yes you can hold the ancient Muslim conquerors responsible for the Taj Mahal and the numerous forts, palaces and gardens that now provide the Indian government with the much desired foreign exchange and maintain the romantic allure of ancient India for tourists. Yes there were Afghan Muslim conquerors, such as Mahmod Ghazni whose sole aim was to pillage and plunder, but then again he never maintained that he was in India to impart love and joy. Mogul Muslim Kings such as Akbar, Jehangeir, Shah Jehan and even the much maligned Aurengzeb and Babur, the founder of the Mogul dynasty, all employed both Hindu and Sikh generals and entire regiments of Sikh and Hindu Rajputs who fought and died for them. In modern day Iran, there are a number of Jewish persons actively involved in Iranian political life, such as Maurice Motamed, member of the Iranian parliament and Haroun Yeshaya, longtime chairman of the Jewish Central Committee of Tehran. There are 25,000 Jews in Tehran, Shiraz and Yazd, who attend packed synagogues, send their children to Jewish schools, buy their meat in kosher butchers and are even exempt from prohibitions on alcohol. Christian populations thrive in almost all Muslim countries and generally live free without the harassment and fear that Muslims live under in the West. Yes Non-Muslims are not allowed in the holy city of Mecca, but you have to understand and appreciate the sanctity and enormity of what this piece of geography means to Muslims - consider it as one enormous church or synagogue. However we all know how my fellow Israeli Jews treat the Palestinians. Not a day goes by without being punctuated by the killing of Palestinian civilians.


We supported the slaughter of thousands of Shia's in Iraq during Sadaam's rule.

We support the opression and violence against the Plestinians for the past 3 decades ... using the confict to hate Jews instead of acting as one body and fixing it.

We fund organizations that clearly have lost sight of the spirit of Islam and the teachings of our Prophet (SAW)

We say nothing when our "heros" kill women and children regardless if they are muslim christian or jew.


So, yes ... we support violence and terror as long as we're the ones being violent and terrible!

What's SAD is we, this UMMAH, will contine to behave as a Zionist or a Crusader as the teachers of our Ummah have now justified this behavior ... no longer is the morals, values and techings of Islam enough.


Mr. Hoffman,

Although I am not a Christian, I have to take issue with your mischaracterization of Christianity of being an inherently violent and intolerable religion.
One can list an equal amount of injustice and oppression due to Islamic conquest and expansion from the 7th century.
Let's not forget the special taxes that the Caliphs levied on their minority population that consists Jews & Christians, unless, of course, you converted to Islam. I have read about how tolerant Caliphs were towards their minority population, as long as Muslims had the upper hand. Tolerance should include representation of minorities in gov't and commerce.
Also, lets not forget the Siege of Vienna that highlighted the Ottoman's expansion into western Europe.
One can find flaws, injustice, violence, and oppresion within all religions and no one religion is immuned to human nature's insatiable desire of power and dominance over others.

You say the real enemy is the violence and terrorists acts themselves, not Islam. But that does not exhonorates the connection between the terrorists ideology based on narrow, extremist interpretation of Jihadist Islam. For Muslims not to address why every suicide bomber perpetuate their actions based on their Islamic views are in complete denial. Let's be honest, it's not extremist Jews or Christians that are blowing themselves up. Muslims need to face the problems of the Islamic world in order to stand up to the terrorists and aggressors who taint Islam as a violent religion.
Muslims should also reject the violence in Darfur that pins Muslims (Arabs) against Muslims (non-Arabs).

Note to Mr Hoffman:

You write "The people of Goa have fond memories of Christian love.".

You are correct. We have very 'fond' memories of christian love in Goa.

But we also have very, very fond memories of over 1000 years of muslim love in India; we can never ever forget that. However, Christian period was much shorter than muslim period.

Thank you M Hoffman for well researched comment. This is a wakeup call to all muslims wether sufis, shi'is or sunnis to put hands together to fight this wanton destruction of muslims and their civilisation. We can start by helping Iran in its quest for nuclear tech. as i said in one of my comment Iran remains the only hope for muslims in this century (at least for now!), don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Iran goes the future may be bleak for the rest of us who want to be muslim and practice Islam as it should be practiced.


'And we can start by recognizing that Muslims throughout the world want peace as much as Americans do.' REALLY?????

The Americans zealously support their terrorist governments. The Muslims do not support any kind of terrorists, much less terrorists from their own society, but I personally support freedom fighters and insurgency against the invaders, murderers and thieves.

The Muslims are more peaceful than the Christian/Jewish/Atheist Americans can ever be. The Muslims want to be left alone and do not like to be invaded and certainly do not like they children slaughtered by the Americans. The Muslims want to be ruled according to their noble religion and do not want anyone to interfere in their affairs; the Americans do not like that, so they drop bombs on the Muslim populations. The Americans have left no one alone to live in peace for the last 60 years. If the Americans built up their military machine surpassing any other nation on Earth, it is simply because they hate peace and love wars.

The American population is about 300 millions but they bombed more people around the world than any other nations in history. The Muslim population is about 1 billion and a half, how many countries did they bomb?

The Americans want peace? Spare us the hypocrisy, and please do not insult the World with this type of garbage.

Terror Free Tomorrow? TFT? If you really want terror free world, start by completely changing your country's criminal foreign policies around the world, move all your military bases and warships out from our backyards, you are definitely most unwelcome. Stop being pimps and prostituting clowns that rules our lands.

The Americans will meet Crassus fate; the black gold they are so chronically thirsty of, will one day be poured down their throats, because just like Crassus, they do not know when to stop.


Very insightful and welcoming analysis. These are the kind of informative articles and substantial studies that are needed. Well done Mr. Ballen and every Muslim with a blog should link this article to it. Come on ya Muslims, we have the intellectual capital lets use it because others won't!!

Interesting that the West points the finger of terrorism and violence at Islam when the facts tell otherwise. What is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan is a consequence of American and British grab for oil and land and to secure all Middle East for Israel. I hope they are proud of their handiwork with over 960,000 Afghan and Iraqi civilians slaughtered by Allied bombings . I guess the Americans add another notch to their gun - after Japan where they butchered more than a million Japanese. One look at the following 2 videos will clear up any doubts about who is behind all this racism, violence and terrorism:

Given American and Western predilection to violence and gore, it does not surprise me. The truth, as uncomfortable as it may be to our Western sensibilities and to which everyone is in complete denial, is that, it is Muslims who are the victims of our fascist foreign policies which are almost always motivated by either imperial designs, land or natural resources grab, or if the beleaguered country has the geographical misfortune of being strategically placed. A quick look at the major events of "Violence and Terror" will bring us to some the disconcerting facts: Crusades (1095-1291: European Christians precipitated by French clergy. Sanction by the Pope in the name of Christendom and continued unofficially through the 16th century; Medieval Inquisition (1184-1230): Christians again; Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834) Who else but our beloved Christians; Portuguese Inquisition (1536): You guessed it. Christians again. The people of Goa have fond memories of Christian love. Roman Inquisition (1542) Established by Pope Paul III, (Was he a Muslim?) and one of the first victims was Galileo Galilei (1633). Apparently he violated the Christian concept that the earth was flat. Interestingly it was already revealed in the 7th century Muslim's Koran that the earth was round and so were the planets that revolved around it each in their own constellations. Funny how Islam was light years ahead of Christianity and Judaism in arts, science and mathematics. Does not seem to be a book of violence to me, but more a book of science. The Indian Massacres (1511-1890) Essentially the Red Indian Holocaust by White "Christian" Europeans in a free-for-all Christian land grabs. Holocaust (1939-1945): Christians again. We all know about that don't we? Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki (August 6, 1945) The first nation subject to nuclear bombing and massacred by-American Christians! Bosnia Massacre (1992-1995) Christian Serbs & Croats killing Muslims, as in Kosovo Massacre: Christian Serbs