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CAIRO: Though they lack the basic knowledge about Islam, more than half Americans already hold negative views about the faith and think it supports violence, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.


"There is still a broad lack of familiarity with the world's second-largest religion -- 55 percent of those polled said they are without a basic understanding of the teachings and beliefs of Islam," the Post said Monday, April 6, summarizing the findings.


"…most said they do not know anyone who is Muslim."


And while ignorance has prevailed as the results showed, underlying views remained utterly negative.


"About half, 48 percent, said they have an unfavorable view of Islam, the highest in polls since late 2001," said the daily.


"Nearly three in 10, or 29 percent, said they see mainstream Islam as advocating violence against non-Muslims."


As in previous surveys, the poll showed that unfamiliarity was the main reason for the suspicious views.


"Some 53 percent of those who know a little background on Islam are more likely to see the religion as peaceful.


"Similar patterns exist for those who know a Muslim."


A recent survey by the Pew Research Center showed that the majority of Americans know very little about Islam.


Though there are no official figures, America is believed to be home to nearly seven million Muslims.



Despite their negative views, the majority of Americans back Obama's plan to seek improved relations with the Muslim world.


"An overwhelming 81 percent of Americans in this poll call it important for Obama to try to improve US relations with Muslim nations; 46 percent say it's 'very important,'" said ABC News.


Obama is currently on a two-day visit to Turkey, his first to a Muslim country since assuming office in January.


"The US is not and never will be at war with Islam," he told the Turkish parliament on the final leg of his tour of Europe.


The administration has promised to turn a new leaf in America's relations with the Muslim world after eight rocky years under wartime predecessor George W. Bush.


In his inauguration speech, Obama vowed to seek a "new way forward" with the Muslim world.


His Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, in her first foreign trip hoping to restore US image.

Under Bush, American-Muslim relations hit record low.


His invasion of two Muslim countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, put a bigger strain on already shattered ties.


Obama stressed Monday his administration was seeking broad engagement with Muslim countries.


"We will listen carefully, bridge misunderstanding... We will be respectful, even when we do not agree."

(Courtesy: Islamonline)








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