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Survey finds American distrust of Muslim world

PRINCETON, New Jersey (CNN) -- About one quarter of Americans surveyed have a favorable view of Muslim nations and more than two-thirds believe those countries would be better off if they adopted Western values, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

The poll of 863 adults comes in the wake of a similar survey of nine Muslim nations that found widespread disapproval of the United States.

The two polls are virtual mirrors in their results: Most Americans surveyed said they believe Muslims don't respect Western values, and residents of such countries said the United States does not respect Islamic culture.

In this latest poll, conducted March 1-3, just under one-third of Americans surveyed said they believe all or most people in Muslim countries admire Osama bin Laden, and one-third said they believe Islam promotes more violence than other religions worldwide.

Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said they believe people in Muslim countries think the United States is at war with the Muslim world; only 34 percent of these Americans said they believe that is the case.

Of those surveyed, 24 percent had favorable opinions of Muslim nations; 41 percent had negative opinions.

When asked what they believe people in Muslim countries think of the United States, 82 percent of the Americans surveyed thought Muslim's opinions would be unfavorable, compared with 9 percent who thought their opinions would be favorable.

When asked why they thought those opinions were unfavorable, 78 percent blamed misinformation while 11 percent blamed U.S. actions.

The survey found that 68 percent believe Muslim countries would be better off if they adopted Western values.

The earlier survey of Muslim nations found most residents believed the United States was "arrogant" and was biased against Islamic culture.

If the survey is any indication, most Americans are not particularly worried about what the Muslim world thinks of them.

Twenty-four percent said Muslims' opinions did not matter much to them, and 23 percent said they had no interest at all in Muslims' opinions.

Almost a quarter of those surveyed said the opinions of people in Muslim countries mattered to them a great deal, and 29 percent said those opinions were moderately important.

Forty-one percent of those surveyed said they knew a moderate amount about Muslim countries, while 56 percent said they knew little or nothing at all.

The study found that 77 percent of respondents believed the U.S. military action in Afghanistan was morally justified; only 12 percent found it unjustified.

Gallup asked the same question in seven Muslim countries for its poll released last week and got very different responses. In none of those countries did a majority say that the war in Afghanistan was justified.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.




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