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Poll: Muslims show only partial support for Al Qaeda's agenda

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The poll also found that most respondents want US forces out of the Middle East and many approve of attacks on US troops there. Large majorities also say that undermining Islam was a key goal of US foreign policy.

Lack of interest in totalitarian vision

Most people inside and outside of the Arab world don't share the totalitarian vision that Al Qaeda espouses. And while many Muslims believe that sharia is something that's mandated by their religion, they interpret it widely.

For instance, the latest poll, released on April 24, found that 53 percent of Indonesians "strongly" or "somewhat" agree that the sharia should be followed in every Muslim country.

But a more in-depth poll of Indonesian opinions by the Asia Foundation in 2003 found that most Indonesians did not want Islamic law to replace the civil legal system, force women to cover their hair, or permit the mutilation of thieves and the killing of adulterers. Instead, they saw sharia as an admonition that Muslims abide by the five pillars of Islam: prayer, belief in God, pilgrimage to Mecca, giving alms, and fasting during Ramadan.

Anecdotal evidence in Morocco, Pakistan, and Egypt also point to a similar dynamic. While in Pakistan, large majorities said they supported sharia and the establishment of a caliphate, that's seen by analysts as stemming from two sources: disgust at corruption and lack of accountability in their own government, and an inclination to associate what is Islamic with what is good.

But their specific attitudes leave them far adrift of Al Qaeda.

Take Qazi Abdul Qadeer Khamosh, who actively promotes interfaith dialogue as the chairman of the Muslim Christian Federation International in Lahore, Pakistan. He supports sharia, but has a very different view than that espoused by bin Laden.

"Sharia cannot permit for anyone to kill anyone else. It does not even permit the killing of a tree," he says.

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