Friday, August 21, 2015

America’s Not Alone Disliking Iran

Part of President Obama’s and the administration’s challenge is Americans do not like and do not trust Iran. They are not alone. Pew Research released one of its global polls on July 18 and, with a few exceptions, the people of most countries around the world, and including the Middle East, have a highly unfavorable view of Iran. In 31 of the 40 countries polled, either a majority or plurality (“don’t know” was a factor) judged the Islamic Republic unfavorably.

This was in spite of a change in direction of the elected government to reposition the country as interested in joining the world community and negotiate the end of the sanctions.

With the exception of Pakistan, none of Iran’s neighbors who were polled from March 25 to May 27, 2015 had a favorable view of it. Israel, not surprising, saw Iran the least favorably at 92 percent, but it was joined by Jordan (89%), Turkey (64%), Lebanon (58%) and even the Palestinian Territories (57%).

Among the world’s larger economic/military powers, Iran had a high negative image.

Also, Latin American countries were more negative than positive, with the average median 61 percent unfavorable.

Not surprisingly, religion provides much of the framework for people’s views. In Israel, 97 percent of Israeli Jews see Iran unfavorably and 63 percent of Israeli Arabs. In Africa, with a much lower level of reported opinions, 39 percent have unfavorable views and 32 percent favorable, but Christians had only 23 percent favorable views versus 43 percent of African Muslims. Notice, however, that even among Muslim populations, Iran’s favorable ratings are low and unfavorability rating high. Also, Iran’s favorability ratings have decreased during the last five years among Sunni Muslim populations.

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