WE'VE MOVED! IsraPundit has relocated to Click here to go there now.
News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 26, 2003

Surveys: Religiosity not a factor in Arab attitudes to democracy, Israel

Interesting study in Jerusalem Post

According to a University of Michigan study, religious Arab Muslim men and women are just as likely as less religious individuals to favor compromise with Israel and support democracy.

For the new study, political scientist Mark Tessler reviewed findings from many opinion surveys of ordinary men and women in Arab and Islamic countries. Some of the surveys were conducted by Arab scholars while others were conducted by US polling firms and academic institutions.

One 2001 survey, based on a random sample of 1,318 West Bank and Gaza residents, found that three times as many people supported reconciliation with Israel as opposed it and that supporters were just as likely as opponents to be religious or very religious.

"Religion and culture are not fostering antipathy to Western norms and institutions," said Tessler. "In fact, political and economic factors are much more important than religion in accounting for variance in attitudes toward politics, governance and international relations.

"At a time of increasingly strained relations between the US and the Arab world, it is particularly important to recognize the evidence that religious attachments do not foster the kinds of militant and totalitarian attitudes among ordinary people in the Arab world that some in the West allege," Tessler said.