Is political Islam losing steam in the Arab world?

2017/12/17 Issue: 136 Page: 11

London- A poll conducted by the US polling firm Zogby Research Services in­dicates that majorities in many Arab countries say religious movements should “restrict themselves to personal faith and spiritual guidance.”

Strong majorities of respond­ents in Saudi Arabia (85%), the United Arab Emirates (84%), Tur­key (84%), Egypt (81%), Lebanon (59%) and Jordan (56%) said they favoured such an attitude.

The poll, commissioned by the Bani Yas Forum, was conducted in August and September in a num­ber of Middle East and North Af­rican countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey.

Majorities of respondents among Palestinians (61%) and Iraqis (59%) said they favoured religious move­ments playing “a direct role in po­litical life and governance.”

Majorities in all the polled Arab countries and Turkey, except for Lebanon, shared a viewpoint which sees a weakening effect on countries from Islamist rule.

The point of view that, once in power, Islamists make “countries weaker” was shared by clear ma­jorities of respondents in Turkey (96%), Saudi Arabia (84%), the UAE (84%), Egypt (81%), the Pales­tinian territories (74%) Iraq (71%) and Jordan (53%).

Majorities also said religious movements made the “lives of citi­zens worse” once assuming power. This was the case among respond­ents in Turkey (96%), Saudi Ara­bia (84%), the UAE (84%), Egypt (83%), Iraq (77%) and the Palestin­ian territories (70%).

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