WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Approval of U.S. leadership among Muslims living in sub-Saharan Africa is higher than approval among residents in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.
When asked in 2007 whether they approved of the job performance of the leadership of the United States, strong majorities of self-identified Muslims in Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal, and Guinea said they did approve. In Chad, Mauritania, and Niger, Muslim residents' approval is lower (50% in each of the three Sahelian countries approve of U.S. leadership). But it is still higher than the median 13% approval rating across 11 countries surveyed in the MENA region in 2007. Within the region, approval ratings range from 7% in the United Arab Emirates and 9% in Saudi Arabia to 55% in Morocco.
Among Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa surveyed, approval is lowest in Sudan (31%). However, that number is identical to American respondents' approval of their own leadership (31%) when they were asked the same question in August 2007. As a point of comparison, the median approval score of U.S. leadership among the public in the European Union (excluding Luxembourg and Malta) is 20%.
How They Stay Plugged in About the Outside World
Greater reliance on certain types of news media may help explain, at least in part, why approval of U.S. leadership is higher among Muslims living in sub-Saharan Africa than approval among those living in the MENA region. Among African Muslims surveyed, radio (national and international) is by far the source they consider "very important" in keeping them well-informed about events in other countries. But for those living in the MENA region, international television is the source they deem to be very important to stay abreast of international news events.
While independent media are developing in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, national governments still control the airwaves and other sources of information that tend to portray the United States more favorably. Furthermore, more Muslims respondents living in the MENA region said they had access to electricity and had a television than Muslim respondents living in sub-Saharan Africa who said the same. As a result, fewer Muslims living in Sub-Saharan Africa are likely to watch international television channels that may be critical of U.S. policy.
Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews conducted throughout 2006 and 2007. Randomly selected sample sizes typically number 1,000 residents, aged 15 and older, in the United States, the 25 European Union member countries (excluding Luxembourg and Malta), and the 11 Middle East North African countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen) polled. For results based on samples of this size, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
In Chad, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Sudan, results are based on face-to-face interviews with at least 500 Muslim adults in each country, aged 15 and older, in 2007. The margin of error in sub-Saharan African countries is ±5 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.