Is political Islam losing steam in the Arab world?
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%).