WASHINGTON: US views on Egypt have turned sharply more negative although most Americans acknowledge they have not heard much about the protests sweeping the longtime US ally, polls said Tuesday.
A Gallup poll conducted last week found that 50 percent of Americans had an unfavourable view of Egypt and 40 percent had a favourable view. A year earlier, only 29 percent of Americans thought unfavorably about Egypt.
But a separate survey by the Pew Research Center found that 52 percent of Americans reported hearing "little or nothing" about the protests seeking the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled for three decades.
US President Barack Obama won high marks for his handling of the unrest, with 57 percent saying that his level of support for the protesters was “about right”. Few said his backing was either too much or too little.
Obama has walked a careful line during the protests, saluting the movement for democracy but stopping short of publicly urging the immediate resignation of Mubarak, a longtime US partner in the Middle East peace process.
Despite the Pew poll's findings, the unrest in Egypt has been widely covered on cable television with CNN and other major news networks often broadcasting live in the heart of Cairo.
The Gallup poll showed that well-educated Americans were more likely to view Egypt favorably. It also showed differences among generations, with most Americans between ages 18 and 29 still favourable toward Egypt but the figure slipping to just 31 percent among those over age 65.
Gallup surveyed 1,015 adults by telephone and did not define "favourable" views of Egypt. The Pew Research Center polled 1,385 adults by telephone.
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