Thursday, June 2, 2011

The People Have Voted and Barack Obama Is NOT The Next “Muslim Idol”

This article is published on PajamasMedia.

By Barry Rubin

Wow. How can anybody continue to spout nonsense about how President Barack Obama's policies and endless attempts to make Muslims and Arabs love America are succeeding or are even useful in light of this new Pew poll.

Here are the findings. The analyses following the numbers are mine:

1. Are you favorable toward Obama?

Jordan, 13 percent; down 12 points since he took office. The Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinians (there's an overlap) hate him and the "East Bankers," that is the non-Palestinians don't trust him to support the continued existence of the monarchy.

Turkey; 10 percent; down 4 points. This reflects the efforts of the Islamist government to incite massive anti-Americanism despite the fact that Obama never criticizes and only praises the regime.

Pakistan; 11 percent, down 5 points. This is, of course, despite billions in aid he has given even though Pakistan has sponsored terrorism against India while helping al-Qaida leaders escape capture.

Lebanon; 49 percent, down 6 points. The relatively high figure here no doubt expresses the hope of Sunni Muslims, Christians, and Druze who oppose Syria and Hizballah that Obama would help them. He hasn't and won't.

Egypt; 20 percent, down 7 points. Despite his helping them to overthrow their government that was allied to the United States, there's no gratitude. The Muslim Brotherhood is about four times more popular than Obama and it stands for jihad against America. (Its leaders say so even if the American media and "experts" ignore it.)

Palestinians, 18 percent, up 3 points, which is not very impressive given all his efforts and tilt toward them.

In other words, everything Obama has done: the Cairo speech, super-sensitivity toward Islam, support for Arab revolts, distancing the United States from Israel--has had no effect, indeed, a negative effect.

2. Asked, do you sympathize with ”Islamic fundamentalists” or their opponents, Muslims replied:

Pakistan: 47 to 15. Pro-Islamist.  One day that nuclear-weaponed country might blow up in a way that would make Egypt look like a picnic.

Palestinians: 37 to 23. Pro-Islamist. Keep that in mind if there’s an election battle between Fatah and Hamas. We are constantly told that Fatah is more popular because it has raised living standards. Don't bet on that. In the Middle East, never underestimate the power of ideology and the appeal of militancy as against material self-interest.

Jordan: 35 to 37 About even. Encouraging. Note that this has been one of the quietest countries this year. Presumably this reflects strong "East Banker" support for the monarchy.

Egypt 31 to 30. About even. Encouraging but the problem is that the Islamists are well-organized and energetic while their opponents are not. No serious nationalist or moderate democratic party has been formed yet, with only about three months to go before the parliamentary election! In other words, even if they were to get, for example, "only" 30 percent of the vote they could win an even higher portion of seats, running in many cases against divided "non-Islamist" blocs and multiple rival candidates.

Turkey 24 to 45. Anti-Islamist. But perhaps the problem is that they don’t see the current government and the ruling AK party as Islamist. That's why a lot of "anti-Islamists" will vote for a stealth Islamist party in the June 12 election.

Israeli Muslims, 23 to 27. About even. The nationalists and Communists are still powerful among Arab citizens. That’s still a scary number but remember the number of "pro-Islamists" in Israel's population is only about five percent of the total (that is about one-quarter of 18 percent Muslims in the population). In these other countries the population is 90 percent (Egypt) to 99 percent (everywhere else) Muslim.

Let me paraphrase (in my own words) Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the fabulously popular Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guru: Usama bin-Ladin was stupid. Of course we should demand and run in elections because we’ll win.

On the U.S. and European side, no amount of Islamophilia--aid money, flattery, moving away from Israel, helping people overthrow pro-Western regimes, praising Muslim accomplishments in space exploration, and so on--will change the Middle East political scene or even the public opinion polls in a positive direction.

There’s lots more of interest in the poll.

Note: The title is a play on the "American Idol" slogan. And yes I'm aware of the irony in the phrase "Muslim Idol." But, of course, Muslims favor the breaking of idols.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is His PajamaMedia columns are mirrored and other articles available at

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