FaithWorld

Egyptians want more Islam in politics, according to Pew poll

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(Anti-Mubarak graffiti in Cairo's Tahrir Square February 1, 2011. The Arabic writing reads "Down with Mubarak."/Yannis Behrakis )

With so much speculation about what role the Muslim Brotherhood might play in any future political system in Egypt, it’s worth looking at some opinion polling data to see what they say they think about the role of Islam in politics.  One recent poll says they want a bigger role for Islam in politics, they want democracy and they reject Islamist radicals such as Osama bin Laden.  Respondents also showed quite high levels of support for traditional Islamic punishments such as stoning for adulterers, cutting off thieves’ hands and death for apostates from Islam.

Whether and how the views mirrored in these results get turned into policy naturally depends on many factors, so this poll the Pew Research Center published in December cannot be any kind of projection of what to expect. Still, it provides at least some data on what Egyptians may want to see from a future government.

The  poll surveyed attitudes among Muslims in seven countries — Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. The questions in the survey are part of Pew’s Global Attitudes Project, which has been collecting this data since 2002. The results are based on responses from 1,000 adults questioned between April 12 and May 3 in face-to-face interviews in Arabic.

For the detailed results from Egypt extracted from the report, see our Factbox: Egyptians want more Islam in politics: poll.

U.S. religious/secular abortion divide is stark

Among the areas covered in the just released Pew survey of American public opinion about abortion, one that grabbed my attention asked about factors that influence people’s opinion about the issue.

For those who support abortion rights, only 11 percent cited religious beliefs as the primary influence on their views on the topic; among those who say abortion should be illegal, 53 percent cited faith as their guiding reason. Overall 32 percent of those surveyed cited religious beliefs as the main factor behind their views on abortion.

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None of this, mind you, is surprising. Opposition to abortion rights in the United States has been driven primarily by religious conservatives — evangelical and Catholic mostly — and so the figure fits the usual narrative. Few people cite faith as a reason to support abortion rights and so the 11 percent figure in that regard is also what you would expect.

Support for abortion rights declines in America

Public support for abortion rights is ebbing in America while the issue’s importance has fallen on the public agenda, especially for liberal Democrats, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

In 2007 and 2008, Pew found that supporters of abortion rights outnumbered those saying it should be illegal in most or all cases by a 54 percent to 40 percent margin.

By contrast, in two major surveys conducted in 2009 among a total sample of more than 5,500 adults, views of abortion are about evenly divided, with 47 percent expressing support for legal abortion and 44 percent expressing opposition,” Pew said.