Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Muslim Survey

[posted by Callimachus]

"Muslims Believe US Seeks to Undermine Islam" was the headline on this in-depth study of public opinion in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, and Indonesia.* [PDF of full report is here]

Some interesting stuff to chew on in there. The cover report obviously took pains to stress certain points of moderation. For instance, the cover letter assures us:

However, respondents roundly reject attacks on civilians. Asked about politically-motivated attacks on civilians, such as bombings or assassinations, majorities in all countries—usually overwhelming majorities—take the strongest position offered by saying such violence cannot be justified at all.

Which certainly is reassuring if you live in a large American city. Or is it? Go to the PDF of the survey and look at the actual question:

In [your country], how justified are attacks on civilians (e.g. bombings, assassinations) that are carried out in order to achieve political goals – strongly justified, justified, weakly justified, or not justified at all?

"In your country." We're left to wonder what they think about such attacks in someone else's country -- say, mine. Or why the surveyors chose not to ask that one. Or to phrase their report as they did.

Other tidbits buried in the text jumped out at me.

Like this one:

On average less than one in four believes al Qaeda was responsible for September 11th attacks. Pakistanis are the most skeptical—only 3 percent think al Qaeda did it. There is no consensus about who is responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington; the most common answer is “don’t know.”

Truly, we inhabit not only separate civilizations, but separate realities.

Then there's this one:

Two-thirds would even like to “unify all Islamic counties into a single Islamic state or caliphate.”

Which I suppose also relates to the average 64% in each country who believe it is a U.S. goal to “spread Christianity in the region.” We may argue here about whether the "Clash of Civilizations" is just another noxious Western colonialist template for a complex world. Over there, it seems, the worldview is not so complex at all and the clash of civilizations is a no-brainer.

*[The surveys were conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007 using in-home interviews. In Morocco (1,000 interviews), Indonesia (1,141 interviews), and Pakistan (1,243 interviews) national probability samples were conducted covering both urban and rural areas. However, Pakistani findings reported here are based only upon urban respondents (611 interviews); rural respondents were unfamiliar with many of the issues in the survey. In Egypt, the sample (1,000 interviews) was an urban sample drawn probabilistically from seven governorates. Sample sizes of 1,000 – 1,141 have confidence intervals of +/- 3 percentage points; a sample size of 611 has a confidence interval of +/-4 percentage points.]