Global poll: Most reject idea Islam and West face 'clash of civilizations'

A majority of people surveyed in 27 countries believe that common ground can be found between Islam and the West, rejecting the idea of a clash of civilizations, according to a poll published Monday.

The British Broadcasting Corp. World Service poll of more than 28,000 people found 52 percent believe tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims are caused by political power and interests, compared with 29 percent who say religion and culture are root causes.

Most people questioned, including Muslims and non-Muslims, rejected the notion that violent conflict between Islam and the West is inevitable. Although 28 percent said violence was inevitable, twice as many 56 percent believe "common ground can be found."

Since the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S., countries around the world have struggled with how to deal with Islamic radicalism. The poll's results are hopeful, showing most believe differences between Muslims and Westerners can be worked out, said Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which conducted the survey with pollsters from GlobeScan.

"Most people around the world clearly reject the idea that Islam and the West are caught in an inevitable clash of civilizations," Kull said.

Fifty-eight percent blame tensions on intolerant minorities not cultural groups as a whole. But, 26 percent identified fundamental differences between the cultures as the cause.

In Britain, 77 percent believe common ground can be found between Muslim and Western cultures, compared with 15 percent who see violence as inevitable. In the U.S., 64 percent believed in common ground but 31 percent saw conflict as inevitable, reports AP.

Overall, 52 percent of the 5,000 Muslims surveyed said common ground was possible, including majorities in Lebanon (68 percent) and Egypt (54 percent) as well as pluralities in Turkey (49 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (47 percent).

Worldwide, the poll indicated, Muslims are more certain than Christians that tensions derive from political conflict, at 55 percent compared with 51 percent.

The belief in common ground increases with education at 46 percent among those with no formal education to 64 percent for those with post secondary education.

Pollsters questioned about 1,000 people in each country. The margin of error for the Nov. 3-Jan. 16 poll ranges from 2.5-4 percentage points depending on the country.

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