Muslim World Cool Toward Bin Laden, but Cooler Toward the United States

The Palestinian territories are the only place where most Muslims view bin Laden positively.

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By Larry Derfner, Mideast Watch

A poll of political attitudes in Muslim countries finds that the Palestinian territories are the only place where a majority holds a positive view of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. However, large majorities in several Muslim nations contend that the United States is working to "divide and weaken" the Islamic world. The Jordan Times reports on the findings of the poll:

The only respondents where a majority had a positive view of Ben Laden were Palestinians residing in the West Bank and Gaza, 56 per cent of whom reported to have positive feelings, compared to 22 per cent negative and 22 per cent "mixed".

In Egypt, 44 per cent of citizens have a positive view of Ben Laden compared to 17 per cent negative, while 25 per cent of Pakistanis have positive views versus 20 per cent negative.

The only predominately Muslim countries polled where a majority had negative views of Al Qaeda leader were Azerbaijan (82 per cent) and Turkey (68 per cent). Approximately 80 per cent of Jordanians believe the US is actively working to "divide and weaken" Islam, the report asserts, compared to 87 per cent of Egyptians, 87 per cent of Palestinians and 82 per cent of Turks.

Libyan P ress F reedom or N epotism?

After banning foreign news media in his country for a quarter century, Libyan strongman Muammar Qadhafi is opening up the country's newsstands to the world. In what may or may not be a coincidence, the distributor of the publications was set up by Qadhafi's son. The pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Alawsat reports:

"The company is going to distribute 90 Arab and international newspapers and magazines, including the main British, French and US dailies," said Abdessalem Meshri, director of Al-Ghad (Tomorrow), a private media business set up by Libyan leader Moamer Ghadafi's reformist son Seif al-Islam.

Meshri said the distribution of the foreign titles would not be controlled by the state.

"But that does not mean that we are not going to take account of our social, cultural and Islamic values," he added.

He said the titles returning to Libyan news-stands ranged from heavyweight broadsheets like the International Herald Tribune to tabloids like Britain's Daily Mirror. They also include the two main Saudi-owned pan-Arab dailies, Al-Hayat and Asharq al-Awsat.

Lebanese F ilm C ensorship or P olitical S candal?

The daughter of a Lebanese politician has caused a stir after she played a prostitute and appeared nude in a movie, which was banned only four days after it premiered. The Dubai-based satellite TV station Al Arabiya reports:

The censorship division at the Lebanese General Security Authority did not give reasons for banning "Help" but the outraged producer Bacchus Elwan threatened to sue the censor, saying the film had not broken any laws. . . .

Actress Joanna Andraus, who is the daughter of Antoine Andraus, member of Lebanon's ruling March 14 Alliance, admitted that the scenes were daring, but stressed that they serve the purpose of the movie.

"I have no problem with nudity on screen," she told "It is art like paintings of nude women."