PARIS: Egyptians want Islam to play a large role in politics, reject radical Islam and think democracy is the best political system, according to poll data collected in Muslim countries last year.
The data, published by the US 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:
On Islam in politics
- Is it good that Islam plays a large role in politics? 95 per cent said “yes” and 2 per cent “bad.”
- Is Islam’s influence in politics positive or negative? 85 per cent said “positive,” 2 per cent said “negative.”
- How much of a role does Islam play in Egyptian politics now? 48 per cent said “large” and 49 per cent said “small.”
- Is there a struggle between groups that want to modernize Egypt and Islamic fundamentalists? 31 per cent said “yes.” Of them, 27 per cent described themselves as modernisers and 59 per cent called themselves fundamentalists.
On Islamic extremism
- Are suicide bombings justified? 46 per cent said “never,” 34 per cent “rarely,” 12 per cent “sometimes” and 8 per cent “often.” (NOTE: Support for suicide bombing has dropped since 2006, when 28 per cent said they were justified sometimes or often.)
- Are you concerned about Islamic extremism in the world? 70 per cent said they were “very concerned” or “concerned.”
- Are you concerned about Islamic extremism in Egypt? 61 per cent said they were “very concerned” or “concerned.”
On Foreign Islamic movements
- What do you think of Hamas? 49 per cent were favourable.
- What do you think of Hezbollah? 30 per cent were favourable.
- What do you think of al Qaeda? 20 per cent were favourable.
- Do you have confidence in Osama bin Laden? 19 per cent said “some” or “a lot,” 73 per cent said “not much” or “none.” (NOTE: Confidence in bin Laden has fallen from 27 per cent in 2006).
On traditional Muslim practices
- Should men and women be segregated in the workplace? 54 per cent said “yes” and 44 per cent “no.”
- Should adulterers be stoned? 82 per cent said “yes.”
- Should apostates from Islam face the death penalty? 84 per cent said “yes.”
- Should thieves be flogged or have their hands cut off? 77 per cent said “yes.”
- Is democracy preferable to any other kind of government? 59 per cent said “yes.”
- Can a non-democratic system be preferrable in certain circumstances? 22 per cent said “yes.”
- Is it irrelevant to you what kind of government you have? 16 per cent said “yes.”
The report can be read on Pew Research Center’s website here.