Jeuna Afrique, France
Barack Obama’s Popularity in Decline in Muslim Countries
By Benjamin Roger
Translated By Robert Shaza
18 June 2012
Edited by Katie Marinello
France - Jeuna Afrique - Original Article (French)
A recent study by the Pew Research Center underscores the sharp drop in popularity of Barack Obama in Muslim countries. This is a slap in the face for one who claimed to reconcile the United States and the Arab world.
On June 4, 2009, less than six months after entering the White House, Barack Obama was in Cairo, Egypt for an eagerly awaited official visit intended to patch the relationship between his country and Muslims around the world. At the Al-Azhar University, a center of Sunni Islam, he said a symbolic "Assalaamu alaykum" to the three thousand people who came to hear his speech.
“I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world,” he said to the crowd. “In Ankara, I made clear that America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam,” he added, saying that the "cycle of suspicion and discord must end."
Three years after this historic speech, the reconciliation project of the U.S. president appears to have failed. This is certainly what a study published on June 13 by the Pew Research Center says. According to this American think tank specialized in international opinion polls, the popularity rating of Barack Obama in Muslim countries fell by 9 percent between 2009 and 2012 (from 33 percent to 24 percent positive opinion). The figures on the assessment of his international politics are even more severe. Only 15 percent of respondents of the Muslim countries judge it as positive in 2012 against 34 percent in 2009, a decrease of 19 percent.
According to the Pew Research Center, the image of the United States, already tarnished in 2008 after two terms of George W. Bush, has not improved in a significant number of Muslim countries under President Obama. 25 percent of respondents were positive about the country of Uncle Sam in 2009. They are no more than 15 percent in 2012.
Support for Barack Obama even plummeted in some Muslim countries considered as allies. Fewer than three out of ten people trust him in Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey and Jordan. Another striking example, only 7 percent of Pakistanis had a favorable opinion of the U.S. President, one year after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
Beyond the policy of supporting Israel, the Iraq war or the one in Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism led by the United States is still widely unpopular in many Muslim countries. A large majority of respondents expressed profound disagreement about the use of drones. These small unmanned combat aircraft are widely used by the Obama administration against the nebulous al-Qaida in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. According to The New York Times, the number of drone attacks in Pakistan rose from 35 in 2008 to 117 in 2010 — a strategic move that is unlikely to improve the image of Obama in Muslim countries.
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