89% Pakistanis say suicide bombing is 'never justified': PEW report

The international survey finds 67% Pakistanis are 'concerned' about Islamic extremism.

Talha Ahmed September 10, 2013
Former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti offering funeral prayers of suicide blast victims. PHOTO: APP/FILE

A new survey conducted by 'Pew Research Center' has found that as many as 89% of Pakistanis currently believe suicide bombings or other acts of violence targeting civilians are "never justified". Another two percent stated they sometimes can be justified, while one percent stated they are "often" justified.

The survey reports opinions from 11 Muslim countries from face-to-face interviews of 8, 989 Muslims conducted during March 3 to April 7, 2013, across Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Senegal, Tunisia and Turkey.

"Across 11 Muslim publics surveyed by the Pew Research Center, a median of 67% say they are somewhat or very concerned about Islamic extremism. In five countries – Pakistan, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey and Indonesia – Muslim worries about extremism have increased in the past year."

With respect to Pakistan, Pew reports overwhelmingly negative views of suicide bombing.

"Indeed, about three-quarters or more in Pakistan (89%), Indonesia (81%), Nigeria (78%) and Tunisia (77%), say suicide bombings or other acts of violence that target civilians are never justified."

It also states that currently, an estimated 67% of Pakistanis are 'concerned' about the threat of Islamic extremism, which is an increase, compared with 58% in 2012.

The survey further says:

"Although substantial percentages in some countries do think suicide bombing is often or sometimes justified – including a 62% majority of Palestinian Muslims, overall support for violence in the name of Islam has declined among Muslim publics during the past decade.

On its research on the various pro-Islamic militant groups operating across the world, the survey yields:

"The Taliban are viewed negatively by a median of 51% of Muslims in the countries polled. Hezbollah and Hamas fare little better. Hezbollah, in particular, has seen its support slip in key Middle Eastern countries, including a 38 percentage point drop in favorable views among Egyptian Muslims since 2007."

Islamic Extremism

Elsewhere on the globe, concern about Islamic extremism varied from country to country.

"In Indonesia, the Muslim public is evenly split: 48% concerned vs. 48% unconcerned. Turkey, meanwhile, is the only country surveyed where at least half of Muslims (51%) say they are not worried about Islamic extremism."

"In Tunisia, six-in-ten Muslims are now very concerned, up from 42% saying the same a year ago...in the Palestinian territories, the proportion of Muslims worried about extremism has declined 14 percentage points since 2011, the last time the question was asked there."

Suicide Bombing

In some countries, substantial minorities of Muslims say attacks on civilians are at least sometimes justified to defend Islam from its enemies; in the Palestinian territories, a majority of Muslims hold this view.

Half or more of Muslims in most countries surveyed say that suicide bombing and other acts of violence that target civilians can never be justified in the name of Islam. In Malaysia, however, roughly a quarter of Muslims (27%) take the view that attacks on civilians are sometimes or often justified.

More importantly, the report indicates that support for suicide bombing is not correlated with religious devoutness.

"Generally, Muslims who say they pray five times per day are no more likely to support targeting civilians to protect Islam than those who pray less often. The only exception is the Palestinian territories, where 66% of Muslims who pray five times per day say suicide bombing is often or sometimes justified versus 49% of those who pray less than five times per day."

Extremist Groups

Overall, views of extremist groups are negative across the Muslim publics surveyed. A median of about a third or fewer have a positive view of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, or Hezbollah. And in no country polled do any of these organizations receive majority Muslim support.

In Pakistan, most of the candidates surveyed offered no opinion on this front, though amongst those who did, most people were against the groups.

Al Qaeda

46% Pakistanis are against the organisation whereas 13% are in favour of it, with 41% choosing not to offer an opinion.

However, in Palestine, positive ratings of Al Qaeda have ticked up seven percentage points since 2011 among Muslims (from 28% to 35% favorable).


72% Pakistanis did not offer an opinion, and 16% of the remaining ones thumbed Hamas down. In the Palestinian territories, opinions of Hamas are mixed, with 45% of Muslims viewing the group unfavorably, compared with 48% who say they have a favorable view.

"Since 2007, support for Hamas has also declined among Muslims in Pakistan (-31), Jordan (-20), Malaysia (-20), Indonesia (-19), and Turkey (-10)."


Muslim attitudes toward Hezbollah are mixed in Senegal, Tunisia, and Indonesia, with many offering no opinion.

In Palestine, 43% are in favour of the group with 49% against it.

In Pakistan, again, 72% recorded no opinion. 13% said they were not in favour of the group against a 15% who said they were.

The Taliban

A median of 51% of all Muslims have an unfavorable view of the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist movement almost exclusively based in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Majorities of Muslims in Lebanon (92%), Jordan (82%), Egypt (70%), Turkey (70%), and Pakistan (65%) have a negative opinion of the group. About half of Muslims in Nigeria (51%), Tunisia (50%), and the Palestinian territories (50%) share this view.


Shekhar | 9 years ago | Reply

@Muhammad: Dude dont you think if it was so easy fathoming BOMBING Kashmiri children, India would still have Article 370? I mean, look at Sri Lanka... They just absorbed the entire province. In a generation or two, people would most probably forget any qualms they had with Colombo. What stops India from doing the same? The point is.... i don't think any sane person would ever deny that there have been loads of human rights abuses in Kashmir. But don't you think every army/paramilitary intervention has an unfortunate price to pay? I am sure, you know of the same from Azad Kashmir and Balochistan too (I aint sure about G-B). American troops keep doing similar deeds in Iraq and Afghanistan (and increasingly in Pakistan too)... I cannot recall any case anywhere in the world at any point in history that was otherwise. It is unacceptable for anyone and no sane body in India will ever justify it. Its unfortunate and needs to stop soon. But militants targetting civilian populations/areas (on purpose) mostly in the name of Islam and sometimes in the name of some disoriented notion of Azadi is not cool dude. Just not cool

Sudhanshu Swami | 9 years ago | Reply

It takes only one fish to spoil water. even 2-5% of support means huge. That means millions and millions of people support Such extremism. Even if thousands of people support extremism then that is threat to peace. While here 1-2 crore people are supporters !

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