Poll: Islam Religion of Peace and Democracy
Robin Wright reports that a majority of Muslims support democracy and oppose terrorism in a new Pew survey.
Osama bin Laden’s standing has dropped significantly in some key Muslim countries, while support for suicide bombings and other acts of violence has “declined dramatically,” according to a new survey released today. In a striking finding, predominantly Muslim populations in a sampling of six North African, Middle East and Asian countries also shared to “a considerable degree” Western nations’ concerns about Islamic extremism, the survey found. Many in those Muslim nations see it as threat to their own country, the poll found.
“Most Muslim publics are expressing less support for terrorism than in the past. Confidence in Osama bin Laden has declined markedly in some countries, and fewer believe suicide bombings that target civilians are justified in the defense of Islam,” concluded the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Compared with previous surveys, the new poll also found growing majorities or pluralities of Muslims surveyed now say democracy can work in their countries and is not just a political system for the West. Support for democracy was in the 80 percent range in Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco; in Pakistan and Turkey, where significant numbers of respondents were unsure, it rated 43 percent and 48 percent respectively.
“They are not just paying lip service. They are saying they specifically want a fair judiciary, freedom of expression and more than one party to participate in elections. It wasn’t just a vague concept,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center and director of the project. “U.S. and Western ideas about democracy have been globalized and are in the Muslim world.”
Considering that they are counter to the government policy in many of their host countries–and that people under despotic regimes tend to be reluctant to express opinions contrary to government policy–the results are all the more remarkable.
The real question, though, is what are Muslims willing to do to advance these preferences. Continuing to shelter and honor the terrorists certainly will not achieve them. Nor will making excuses for murder. Nor will saying, “We abhor violence” followed by a “but.”