A majority of Muslims around the world welcome a significant role for Islam in their countries’ political life, according to a new poll.According to the survey from the Pew Research Centre, majorities in Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Nigeria would favour changing current laws to allow stoning as a punishment for adultery, hand amputation for theft and death for those who convert from Islam to another religion.
About 85 per cent of Pakistani Muslims said they would support a law segregating men and women in the workplace.
Muslims in Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria and Jordan were among the most enthusiastic, with more than three-quarters of poll respondents in those countries reporting positive views of Islam’s influence in politics: either that Islam had a large role in politics, and that was a good thing, or that it played a small role, and that was bad.
Turkish Muslims were the most conflicted, with just more than half reporting positive views of Islam’s influence in politics. Turkey has struggled in recent years to balance a secular political system with an increasingly fervent Muslim population.
Many Muslims described a struggle in their country between fundamentalists and modernizers, especially those who may have felt threatened by the rising tides of conservatism. Among those respondents who identified a struggle, most tended to side with the modernizers. This was especially true in Lebanon and Turkey, where 84 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively, identified themselves as modernizers as opposed to fundamentalists.
In Egypt and Nigeria, however, more people were pulling in the other direction. According to the poll, 59 per cent in Egypt and 58 per cent in Nigeria who said there was a struggle identified with the fundamentalists. Despite an overall positive view of Islam’s growing role in politics, militant religious organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah spurred mixed reactions. Both groups enjoyed fairly strong support in Jordan, home to many Palestinians, and Lebanon, where Hezbollah is based. Muslim countries that do not share strong cultural, historical and political ties to the Palestinian cause, such as Pakistan and Turkey, tended to view Hezbollah and Hamas negatively, the poll says.
Al-Qaeda was rejected by strong majorities in every Muslim country except Nigeria, which gave the group a 49pc approval rating. The views about Osama bin Laden are consistently negative; only in Nigeria do Muslims offer views that are, on balance, positive towards al Qaeda and the al-Qaeda leader.
The poll was conducted April 12 to May 7 in seven countries with large Muslim populations. About 8,000 people were interviewed face to face, and the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for Pakistan and 4 percentage points for the other countries.