Many people in the highest levels of government think that 1.5 billion Muslims are uncomfortable with the West because they “hate us for our freedom” and that “religion divides us.” So, leaders build policy — war, economic sanctions, and anti-terror campaigns — around these assumptions. But Gallup World Poll data tell another story entirely.

The world’s Muslims don’t hate us because of our freedom or our way of life or because they’re religious fanatics. Gallup finds that their discomfort comes predominantly from a hopelessness rooted in economic despair and joblessness. This is an economic problem, not a religious one. Yet too often, policies are created around these wrong assumptions.

When Tunisian food vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire, thus igniting the Arab Spring, he didn’t yell, “Death to America” or “Allahu akbar.” He cried out, “I just want to work!”

Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO, Gallup

Gallup has made a 100 million year commitment to Operation HOPE, and a partner in the Gallup-HOPE Index.

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