Riyadh, London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, is the most popular leader in the Islamic world, according to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center. The majority of those who took part in the poll said that they have confidence that King Abdullah will do the right thing in world affairs.
King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz received overwhelming support, and 92 percent of those polled in Jordan and 83 percent of those in Egypt, expressed confidence in the Saudi monarch. The King also received positive ratings outside of the Middle East, with a 64 percent popularity rate in Pakistan and 61 percent in Indonesia.
The Saudi King enjoys overwhelming popularity in comparison to other Islamic leaders polled by the Pew Research Center, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received a favorable opinion of only 32 percent and 26 percent in Jordan and Egypt respectively. As for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he received a favorable opinion of only 18 percent and 17 percent of those polled in Jordan and Egypt respectively. Therefore in Jordan, for example, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz is 60 percent more popular than Ahmadinejad and 74 percent more popular than Karzai.
The Pew Research Center revealed that this is the second time that King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz has appeared at the top of the opinion poll with regards to the popularity of leaders in the Islamic world. King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz was also polled as the most popular leader in the 2007 Pew Research Center poll.
The poll, which was carried out in mid-2009, focused on more than 25 Islamic countries, including 8 Arab countries, with 1000 people being polled in each country. The poll was carried out by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project.
The Pew Research Center poll also revealed that Hezbollah and Hamas enjoy limited support in Islamic countries. According to the Pew Research Center, there are reservations about the performance of Hamas, especially in the Gaza Strip, where only 37 percent of those polled expressed a favorable opinion towards the movement, compared to 47 percent in the West Bank. In Turkey, only 5 percent of those polled expressed support for Hamas, while in Lebanon Hamas support stands at 30 percent, while this rises to 52 percent and 56 percent in Egypt and Jordan respectively.
The poll also revealed that confidence in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has declined since the previous poll in 2007 and in Egypt confidence in Abbas has declined by 37 percent, from 67 percent confidence in 2007 to 33 percent confidence today. However his ratings have only dropped slightly in Palestine, from 56 percent in 2007 to 52 percent today.
As for Hezbollah, the Pew Research Center revealed that 61 percent of Palestinians and 51 percent of Jordanians polled have a favorable view of the Hezbollah movement, however elsewhere opinions are less positive, and only 43 percent of Egyptians and 35 percent of Lebanese polled share a positive view of the movement. According to the Pew Research Center report “As with many issues in Lebanon, views of Hezbollah are sharply divided along religious lines: nearly all of the country’s Shia Muslims (97%) express a positive opinion of the organization, while only 18% of Christians and 2% of Sunni Muslims feel this way.”
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah receives markedly less positive reviews than that of his movement, with only 37 percent of Lebanese overall expressing confidence in the Hezbollah leader. Despite this, the country’s Shia community continues to show him almost unanimous support, and 97 percent of those polled expressed confidence in him.