April 19, 2008

The Economist: Just What Do They Dislike, and Why?

An article in this week's The Economist about the new book by John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, Who Speaks For Islam? The article's primary criticism about the book is that the data was taken from the annual Gallup World Poll and that, at a cost of $28,500 for the full results of that poll, "...it's hard for ordinary folk to judge exactly how fair the authors have been in mining their own data." Otherwise, the results are generally positive:

The authors rehearse several arguments that make sense to anybody who knows the Muslim world. Rather than despising Western freedom, many Muslims admire it, but they scoff at Western claims to be promoting democracy. Muslim women want greater equality, but they are attached to their faith and culture, and hackles can rise when Westerners set out to "liberate" them. The minority of Muslims (7%) who fully approve the September 2001 attacks are not much more pious than average; so religiosity doesn't seem to be what makes them violent. In one survey, over two-thirds of Muslim respondents called America aggressive, while the proportion who took a similar view of France or Germany was under 10%. So democracy as such isn't a Muslim bugbear.

The article also reports on another poll which had was released this past week:

The results of a more narrowly focused survey, by another American pollster, were released this week. They are a troubling read for the Bush administration. A poll by Zogby International of 4,000 people in six Arab countries—Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—found rising numbers had a "very unfavorable" view of America. And compared with a similar poll in 2006, an increasing number (67% versus 61%) thought Iran had every right to pursue its nuclear activities. Whatever one believes about the Muslim soul, Mr Bush's efforts to court the Sunni world, ahead of a possible showdown with Iran, seem not to have impressed the Arab street.

No comments: