WASHINGTON - The majority of Nigerian Muslims reject the anti-Western rhetoric of the militant group Boko Haram that has carried out deadly attacks in Africa's most populous country, a Gallup poll has found.
About 6 in 10 Nigerians believe greater interaction with the West is more of a benefit than a threat. the Gallup survey said on its website.In Boko Haram's Northeast home base, nearly 7 in 10 say the same, it added.
The survey, which included face-to-face interviews with 1,000 people in the north, found that nearly six out of 10 Nigerians believe that more interaction with the West is beneficial, rather than threatening.Majorities of residents in other northern regions, which are home to many Muslims, also view such interaction positively, the poll said.
Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning "Western education is sinful", is loosely modeled on Afghanistan's Taliban.
The militant group says it is fighting enemies who have wronged its members through violence, arrests or economic neglect and corruption.
It has been blamed for a campaign of shootings and bombings against security forces and authorities in the north since 2009.
But recently, the sect has carried out attacks against Christians.
The survey also found a small support among Nigerian Muslims for making Shari`ah the only source of legislation in the West African country."Support for establishing a state relying only on Islamic religious principles is relatively low, which is unsurprising considering Nigeria's complex legal heritage and ethno-religious diversity," senior analyst Magali Rheault and regional research director Bob Tortora wrote on the Gallup blog.
The poll found that roughly half the people surveyed believe that Shari`ah should not be a source of Nigerian law, while 37% said they should be one of its sources.
Only 13% of respondents said that Islam should be the only source.
The survey also showed apparent North-South division on the approval rate of the country's leadership.
In August 2011, more than 6 in 10 Nigerians said they approve of their country's leadership, the survey said.
Approval is slightly lower than average in the Northeast region, with about 4 in 10 residents approving of the country's leadership, it added.
Analysts say the anger on which Boko Haram draws, especially amongst unemployed youths, has a lot to do with northern grievances about perceived alienation from oil riches concentrated in the south.
At the same time, the Nigerian government must strive to develop comprehensive reforms to remedy people's economic grievances and provide more political transparency, the Gallup poll said.Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.
But ethnic and religious tensions have bubbled for years, fuelled by decades of resentment between indigenous groups, mostly Christian or animist, who are vying for control of fertile farmlands with migrants and settlers from the Hausa-speaking Muslim north.