Democracy still ‘preferable’ in Muslim nations, survey says
WASHINGTON — Democracy is still popular in six Muslim-majority countries, over a year after the Arab Spring, and the majority in some countries favors laws based on the Koran, according to a poll published Tuesday.
The first two Muslim-majority nations to overthrow a dictator still “desire” democracy, with some 67 percent of Egyptians and 63 percent of Tunisians saying “democracy is preferable,” according to the survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in recent months.
In the rest of the region, 84 percent of Lebanese and 71 percent of Turks say “democracy is preferable,” but Jordanians and Pakistanis are less enthusiastic, at 61 and 42 percent respectively.
Forty-five percent of Tunisians say the country has improved without ousted 23-year president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, and 42 percent disagree. Tunisians are still optimistic about the future of their country, with 75 percent saying the nation’s flailing economy will improve.
Aside from Lebanon, which boasts a large Christian minority, a majority of poll participants across the surveyed Muslim nations feel Islam does and should play a central role in government. Points of view differ across the countries regarding the degree to which Islam should affect policy.
In Pakistan, 82 percent of participants feel “laws should strictly follow the teachings of the Koran.” In the rest of the Muslim world, only 72 percent of Jordanians, 60 percent of Egyptians, 23 percent of Tunisians and 17 percent of Turks and Lebanese agreed.
A majority of poll participants believe women should have the same rights as men. Lebanese led the pack with 93 percent believing in gender equality. Only 74 percent of Tunisians and 58 percent of Egyptians support equal rights for women. Some 67 percent of Tunisian women say that equal gender rights are very important, whereas only 50 percent of men agree.
The overwhelming majority of most poll participants opposed extremists, even if Al-Qaeda is seen as favorable by 19 percent of Egyptians, 16 percent of Tunisians and 13 percent of Pakistanis.
The polls were conducted in March and April, with a sample of 1,000 participants per country and a margin of error ranging from more or less than 3.9 to 5.2 points across the different countries.