Saturday, October 22, 2005

Part 5

Many people have tried to discredit these polls by stating that Arab countries are not democracies and freedom of speech is nonexistent and so these polls are meaningless. That would be true if most Arabs in countries with American-friendly governments gave favorable ratings of the US but, in the contrary, these populations gave ratings that contrast with the policy of their respective governments. Critics of these polls also contend that Arabs live in fairly closed societies and so are heavily misinformed about American foreign policy. These critics point to Arab media as being overly anti-American and thus affecting Arab views of what happens on the ground and the American response to it. But these criticisms will fall short if one takes a closer look at established democracies like Turkey and Indonesia where freedom of the press and freedom of speech are respected. In June 2003, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center conducted a poll and found that 83% of Turks have an unfavorable view of the United States and that Indonesia’s population went from 75% having a favorable view of the United States in 2000 to 83% having an unfavorable view in June 2004. Moreover since the advent of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, two independent pan-Arab satellite news stations, the Arab public has been getting different stories from different news sources, including these two, and other smaller media organizations. The difference in coverage has not changed views across the Arab nations.

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