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Egyptians want more Islam in politics; 20% view Al-Qaeda positively: Results from a PEW poll

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  • Tarek Fatah
    Friends, A thread on Munir Pervaiz s Writer s Forum caught my attention. It is a PEW survey about the attitude of Egyptians towards Islam and democracy. There
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2011

      A thread on Munir Pervaiz's Writer's Forum caught my attention. It is a PEW survey about the attitude of Egyptians towards Islam and democracy. There are some bright spots in the survey, but overall, they represent a scary scenario. 

      Farid Zakaria in one of his books made a very telling observation. He said somethign to the effect that long before the West exercised full democracy (one-person, one vote, which did not happen until post World War II). first the West ingrained the concept of individual liberty and only after this found roots did democracy thrive. What he implied was that without a people believing in some core principles, particpant democracy and universal human rights is very difficult. To believe that democracy itself will trigger respect for universal human rights is not necessarily true.

      In the West we recognize the danger posed  by what is called the 'tyranny of the majority.' This is why capital punishment and gay rights are not put on referendum ballots; immigrant rights and the place of the disabled are not subject to a majority vote, but rather constitutional protection.

      This is why the following results from Egypt are scary:

      -- 20 percent had a favourable view of Al-Qaeda

      -- 18% had confidence in Osama bin Laden (though it has fallen from 27% a few years ago

      That is the percentage of people who support the Muslim Brotherhood in the last elections, and this may seem like a minority, but in the absence of any political parties except the mosque-based Ikhwan, power will very soon be monopolized by the followers of Al-Qaeda with Gaza being the tail that wagged the Egyptian dog.

      This is exactly the scene from 1979 Iran when none of the parties (Khalq, fedayeen, Tudeh) could match the mulla-network and were soon decimated into dust. In Egypt the scenario is worse for the non-Ikhwanis like Ayman Nour or Amr Mousa.

      The Crisis Group headed by George Soros and Briezinski  have flown in El-Baradei to Egypt the same way the French flew in Khomeni. We see how the leadership of the Arab revolt has slowly moved away from the Jan 25 young men and women and now it seems to be shifting into the hands of the Ikhwanis.

      Mubarak will go, but will he go like Ayub Khan or Najibullah? That is the question.

      Going back to the PEW survey, some aditional information that scared me was the following:

      -- 54 percent said "men and women be segregated in the workplace

      --  82 percent said adulterers should be stoned

      -- 84 percent said apostates from Islam should face the death penalty

      --  77 percent said thieves be flogged or have their hands cut off

      This does not bode well for Egypt as a democratic society. Indeed, the tyranny of the majority is bound to push Arabs further into medievalism, before they can emerge as a democratic state the way Bangladesh has come about; secular, universal and with eyes on the future, not the past.

       Factbox: Egyptians want more Islam in politics: poll

      PARIS | Wed Feb 2, 2011 1:28pm EST
      PARIS (Reuters) - Egyptians want Islam to play a large role in politics, reject radical Islamists and think democracy is the best political system, according to poll data collected in Muslim countries last year. The data, published by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center in December, gives an idea of Egyptian public opinion before the current protests there broke out.

      Collected in April and May of last year for Pew's Global Attitudes Project, the report described Muslim attitudes about religion in politics in seven countries -- Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

      A sample group of 1,000 was surveyed in face-to-face interviews. Here are the data for Egyptian responses:


      -- Is it good that Islam plays a large role in politics? 95 percent said "yes" and 2 percent "bad."

      -- Is Islam's influence in politics positive or negative? 85 percent said "positive," 2 percent said "negative."

      -- How much of a role does Islam play in Egyptian politics now? 48 percent said "large" and 49 percent said "small."

      -- Is there a struggle between groups that want to modernize Egypt and Islamic fundamentalists? 31 percent said "yes." Of them, 27 percent described themselves as modernizers and 59 percent called themselves fundamentalists.


      -- Are suicide bombings justified? 46 percent said "never," 34 percent "rarely," 12 percent "sometimes" and 8 percent "often." (NOTE: Support for suicide bombing has dropped since 2006, when 28 percent said they were justified sometimes or often.)

      -- Are you concerned about Islamist extremism in the world? 70 percent said they were "very concerned" or "concerned."

      -- Are you concerned about Islamist extremism in Egypt? 61 percent said they were "very concerned" or "concerned."


      -- What do you think of Hamas? 49 percent were favorable.

      -- What do you think of Hezbollah? 30 percent were favorable.

      -- What do you think of al Qaeda? 20 percent were favorable.

      -- Do you have confidence in Osama bin Laden? 19 percent said "some" or "a lot," 73 percent said "not much" or "none." (NOTE: Confidence in bin Laden has fallen from 27 percent in 2006).


      -- Should men and women be segregated in the workplace? 54 percent said "yes" and 44 percent "no."

       -- Should adulterers be stoned? 82 percent said "yes."

      -- Should apostates from Islam face the death penalty? 84 percent said "yes."

      -- Should thieves be flogged or have their hands cut off? 77 percent said "yes."


      -- Is democracy preferable to any other kind of government? 59 percent said "yes."

      -- Can a non-democratic system be preferable in certain circumstances? 22 percent said "yes."

      -- Is it irrelevant to you what kind of government you have? 16 percent said "yes."

      (Compiled by Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor)

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