Muslim Support Islamic Groups Participating in the Political Arena
Muslim Support Islamic Groups Participating in the Political Arena
Tuesday, March 17,2009 14:58
By The Editorial Desk

Last month a survey that is part of an ongoing study of Egypt, Pakistan, and Indonesia, with additional polling in Turkey, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Azerbaijan and Nigeria, was released. The survey was conducted by with support from the START Consortium at the University of Maryland.

The findings show that a majority of people in eight predominantly Muslim countries reject attacks on civilians but also oppose US policies in the Middle East and the world.

The results demonstrate that a very large majority, between 67 and 89%, condemn the use of bombs and killing for political and religious purposes; more than 70% are against attacks on civilians At the same time, a large majority supports Al Qa`ida"s goal to "push the US to remove its bases and its military forces from all Islamic countries." These include 87% of Egyptians; 64% of Indonesians; 60% of Pakistanis.

The findings show wide approval to, "application of Shari"a in every Islamic country, and in the long run to unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate" received the support of 65% of Egyptians; 40% of Indonesians; and 76% of Pakistanis and Moroccans.

There were also questions in the survey concerning the American position on the Israeli-Palestinian question, the results shows that a large majority maintains that U.S. policy favors the expansion of Israel. Among these are Egypt (86%); Indonesia (47%); Pakistan (52%); Morocco (64%); Turkey (78%); Azerbaijan (43%). In the Palestinian Territories, the figure reaches 90%, and 84% in Jordan.

And yet, to the question of whether the U.S. intends to create an independent and economically viable Palestinian state, Palestinians voted "yes" by 59%. Of the others, only about 30% agreed.

There were also questions related to feelings towards the west and towards Bin Laden and the findings asserts that ‘western values’ are widely rejected; by 88 per cent in Egypt, 76 per cent in Indonesia, 60 per cent in Pakistan and 64 per cent in Morocco. Concerning positive and negative opinions towards Bin Laden, the highest support for him was in Egypt (44 per cent), followed by the Palestinian territories (56 per cent). In Indonesia 14 per cent view him positively; that number is 25 per cent in Pakistan; 27 per cent in Morocco; 27 per cent in Jordan; 9 per cent in Turkey; and 4 per cent in Azerbaijan.

Support for Islamic groups participating in the political process, though, is quite strong. Respondents were reminded that "in some countries there is a debate about whether Islamist political groups should be allowed to organize parties and run candidates in elections," and then asked to choose between two statements. Majorities or pluralities in every country chose the statement "All people should have the right to organize themselves into political parties and run candidates, including Islamist groups," including Pakistan (83%), Indonesia (81%), Azerbaijan (75%), Palestinian territories (69%), Turkey (53%), and Jordan (50%). Few chose the statement "Islamist groups should not be allowed to organize and run candidates because their ultimate goals are not consistent with democracy."

The surveys were conducted July through September 2008. As part of an ongoing study, in-depth surveys were conducted in Egypt (1,101 interviews), Indonesia (1,120 interviews), and Pakistan (1,200 interviews). This research was supported by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. Additional polling, as part of a network survey, included Azerbaijan (sample size 600), Jordan (583), the Palestinian territories (638), and Turkey (1,023). All of these samples were national probability samples conducted through face-to-face interviewing. Margins of error range from +/- 3 to 4 percentage points. Muslims in Nigeria were also polled.

Full Report (PDF)

Questionnaire/Methodology (PDF)