Reader Comments Show Much Anger Over bin Laden Death

Thursday, 19 May 2011 08:58 AM

By Tawfik Hamid

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After the killing of Bin Laden it was important to know how much support he truly has in the Arab street.

Recently, I did an evaluation of the responses to the death of Osama bin Laden in the major Arabic news media. I choose Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia because the news media they produce is viewed by literally millions in the Arab world and to a great extent they represent the mainstream educated sector in Arab society.

Additionally, in general, Al-Jazeera audience represents the more conservative pro-Palestinian side of the society and Al-Arabia represents more of the more liberal thinkers.

I analyzed the comments of the readers on the death of bin Laden. The number of reader’s comments in Al-Jazeera was 966 and the number of reader’s comments in Al-Arabia was 1,851. All comments were written in Arabic.

The results are as follows:

Al-Jazeera Readers’ Comments
Total number of those who commented on bin Laden death 966
Number of those who clearly supported bin Laden 881
Number of those who were clearly against bin Laden 45
Number of those who did not show a clear position 40












Summary:  91 percent supported bin Laden, 4.8 percent were against bin Laden, and 4.2 percent were unclear whether they supported or were against.


Al-Arabia Readers’ Comments
Total number of those who commented on bin Laden death 1,851
Number of those who clearly supported bin Laden 995
Number of those who were clearly against bin Laden: 492
Number of those who did not show a clear position 364










Summary: 54 percent supported bin Laden, 26.5 percent were against bin Laden, and 19.5 percent were unclear whether they supported or were against.

The total number of the reader’s comments: 2,817.

The mean results show approximately 67 percent supported bin Laden, 19 percent were against bin Laden, and 14 percent were unclear whether they supported or were against.

The above results are similar to the results of a recent poll by the Gilani Research Foundation (conducted by Gallup Pakistan, the Pakistan affiliate of Gallup International Association).

The poll was conducted among 2,530 representatives (men and women) of the adult (18+) population of Pakistan. According to the poll 51 percent say they are sad about the death of Osama bin Laden (i.e., supporters), 11 percent were happy (i.e., against bin Laden), a significant 30 percent described their emotions as unconcerned or uncommitted (unclear).

These results suggest that there is a serious problem in the Muslim world and that this problem must be addressed. Killing bin Laden was an great first step toward fighting radical Islam. However, with this level of support for bin Laden in many parts of the Islamic world it is vital to realize that this problem is much bigger than one person.


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