Democracy 'preferable' in Muslim nations

2012-07-11 12:00
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Washington - Democracy is still popular in six Muslim-majority countries, over a year after the Arab Spring, and the majority in some countries favours laws based on the Qur'an, according to a poll published on Tuesday.

The first two Muslim-majority nations to overthrow a dictator still "desire" democracy, with some 67% of Egyptians and 63% 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% of Lebanese and 71% of Turks say "democracy is preferable", but Jordanians and Pakistanis are less enthusiastic, at 61% and 42% respectively.

Forty-five percent of Tunisians say the country has improved without ousted 23-year president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, and 42% disagree.

Tunisians are still optimistic about the future of their country, with 75% 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.

Laws and teachings

In Pakistan, 82% of participants feel "laws should strictly follow the teachings of the Qur'an."

In the rest of the Muslim world, only 72% of Jordanians, 60% of Egyptians, 23% of Tunisians and 17% 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% believing in gender equality.

Only 74% of Tunisians and 58% of Egyptians support equal rights for women.

Some 67% of Tunisian women say that equal gender rights are very important, whereas only 50% of men agree.

The overwhelming majority of most poll participants opposed extremists, even if al-Qaeda is seen as favourable by 19% of Egyptians, 16% of Tunisians and 13% 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.

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