Among the Muslim publics surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project in 2010, the view that suicide attacks against civilians are never justified is most widespread in Pakistan and Turkey, where 80% and 77%, respectively, share this opinion. Muslim publics generally reject the notion that suicide bombing against civilians can be justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies, but there is considerable support for this kind of violence in some countries. Muslims in Lebanon and Nigeria are the most likely to say suicide bombings can often or sometimes be justified; nearly four-in-ten Lebanese Muslims (39%) and 34% of Nigerian Muslims say that is the case. In Lebanon, support for suicide bombing is especially pervasive among the Shia population — 46% say this kind of violence in defense of Islam can often or sometimes be justified, compared with 33% of Sunnis. One-in-five Muslims in Egypt and Jordan offer support for suicide bombing in defense of Islam, as do 15% of Indonesian Muslims. Yet, far more in these three countries say these violent acts are never justified; 46% of Muslims in Egypt and a majority in Jordan (54%) and Indonesia (69%) reject suicide bombings. Jordanian and Egyptian Muslims express somewhat more support for suicide bombing than they did in 2009, when 12% and 15%, respectively, said violence against civilians was justified in order to defend Islam. Compared with 2002, however, when the Pew Global Attitudes Project began tracking attitudes on this issue, far fewer across the Muslim world now endorse suicide bombings. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.