A Gallup poll published this week in a report on Muslim-Western relations for the World Ecnomic Forum reflects an “alarming low level of optimism regarding dialogue between Islam and the West.” Most people in Muslim and Western nations countries believe dividions between them are worsening and each side believes the other disrespects their culture. Negative perceptions were most prevalent in the Unitd States, Israel and Palestinian terrfitories, most probably due to the Iraq war and the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Although two thirds of people in Muslim nations said they respected the West, almost the same number felt the West did not respect them. Most Western respondents said they did not believe either side respected the other. Ironically, Iranians who have heard about threats of military action by the United States feel less disrespect than Turks who have scant conflict with America and are interested in entering the European Union. Of course, if they fail gaining entry it will only exacerbate distrust.
The report notes Europeans believe “greater interaction between the Muslim and Western worlds is a threat than a benefit.” One would hope the presence of more and more Muslims in the Western world might eventually reduce fears, it is a hope, not a certainty.