It cannot even distinguish between the two broad

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organisation identified in Figure 3 in an unequivocal way. It cannot even distinguish between the two broad categories of ‘sympathy’ and ‘support’ in general. Yet until a better question comes up that is able to make such a distinction, we have to make do with this one. The present Research Paper will take it as the main instrument for measuring (more or less tacit) support for terrorism conducted by jihadists. Acceptance of suicide bombings against civilians as justified by respondents to opinion polls has varied widely depending on time and country. One Pew survey from the year 2002 found that in 14 countries surveyed, the view that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilian targets ‘are sometimes or often justified’ in order to defend Islam from its enemies’ ranged f rom 7 to 73 percent. 22 A more recent Pew survey from 2013 found low support in countries like Indonesia and Iraq (7 percent) and high support in Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories (39 percent and 40 percent respectively) (See Figure 3). Several opinion surveys found that in most countries large majorities of Muslims about 75 percent rejected suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians. 23 However, by placing ‘rarely justified’ and ‘never justified’ in one category and ‘often/sometimes justified’ in the other, the aggregate data might provide too rosy a picture since we do not know how rare ‘rarely’ was compared to ‘never justified’. If this opinion poll is indeed representative, we can translate the ‘often/sometimes justified’ category into absolute numbers of people. For instance, in Egypt where there are nearly 80 million Sunni Muslims out of a total population of 87 million people (including Copts), 29 percent in the table in Figure 5 translate into almost 23 million people. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
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12 Figure 3: Support for Suicide Bombings against Civilians among Muslims (Pew, 2013) 24 Percentages of Muslims who say suicide bombing in defense of Islam is Often/Sometimes Justified Rarely/Never justified Turkey 15% 78% Indonesia 7% 92% Malaysia 18% 74% Pakistan 13% 80% Afghanistan 39% 58% Iraq 7% 91% Tunisia 12% 84% Jordan 15% 82% Morocco 9% 74% Egypt 29% 68% Palestinian Territory 40% 49% Of course, many of these people are either too young or too old to be potential terrorists and thus also much less likely to translate their attitudes into terrorist behaviour. However, even so, there remain millions of people who view suicide bombings in defence of Islam as justified. Add to the Egyptians who share this view those in Afghanistan (39 percent out of a population of nearly 32 million people) or Indonesia (7 percent out of some 226 million Muslims there), Bangladesh (26 percent out of a population of 166 million), Turkey (15 percent of 81 million) and you end up with tens of millions of Muslims who verbally support a quintessential terrorist tactic ‘in defence of Islam’.
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  • Spring '14
  • Islam, Al-Qaeda, September 11 attacks

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