Further Insight into Global and Arab Muslim Opinion Structures: Statistical Reflections on the 2013 Pew Report 'The World’s Muslims'

Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Spring 2014)

17 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2015

See all articles by Arno Tausch

Arno Tausch

University of Innsbruck - Department of Political Science; Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration

Date Written: January 14, 2015


This article reevaluates the April 2013 PEW data on “The World’s Muslims” covering 23 countries and comprising at least 56.6 percent of the total global Muslim population. It presents population-weighted estimates of the 18 PEW indicators for the entire adult Muslim population in these 23 countries. The article also presents a UNDP type Index of Muslim Tolerance (Index of the emancipation of Muslim publics from authoritarian and Islamist thought patterns), which is based on 18 sub-indicators of the PEW study. Kazakhstan, Albania, and Bosnia are the best performers, while Afghanistan, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories are at the bottom. Gender issues and human rights should receive a top priority regarding the EU membership perspectives for Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Turkey.

The following insight into the true mass support for Islamism and authoritarian thought patterns in the Muslim world was obtained by applying appropriate population weights:

Percent of total Muslims in the world saying or of the opinion (population weighted results)

Not comfortable with daughter marrying a Christian 92.29% No knowledge about Christianity 87.63% Wife must obey husband 86.14% Islam alone leads to heaven 85.58% Not comfortable with son marrying a Christian 85.56% % favor making sharia the law of the country 70.08% Islam and Christianity are very different 68.65% % not worried by Muslim extremists 65.45% Converting others is a religious duty 60.32% Stoning adequate punishment for adultery 45.37% Honor killings permissible: female offender 45.15% Honor killings permissible: male offender 42.65% Death penalty for leaving Islam 34.82% Polygamy morally acceptable 31.86% Shari’a should apply for all citizens, not Muslims only 31.48% Suicide bombing justified 15.25%

Arab Muslims in Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco show the best-practice models with the highest values on our Index for the other Arab countries to follow.

Compared to other societal experiences around the globe, which all reflect the truth of the classic hypothesis by Bernard Lewis that Islam as a religion and as a culture should not be blamed for the customs of some of the peoples who adopted it, indeed one can say that the other Arab countries in the sample -- Iraq, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Egypt -- severely lack a liberal civil society. Therefore, prospects for democracy in the region (with the exceptions of Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco) are rather bad.

It is to be hoped that the PEW Institute repeats the survey so that intertemporal shifts can be estimated, and also, access to the original anonymized survey results would be necessary to run multivariate analyses of the drivers of such opinion patterns.

Most of the other implications of this article must be left to the reader, but it is certain that a current high acceptability of such phenomena as honor killings, stoning, and suicide bombing by a third or even more of the entire population in current EU-candidates and potential future EU-candidates makes a mockery of the very fundamentals of the European Union, which state that:

The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

The decisionmakers of the European Union would do well not to sweep such issues under the carpet. In a society based on tolerance there can be no place for stoning and honor killings.

Suggested Citation

Tausch, Arno, Further Insight into Global and Arab Muslim Opinion Structures: Statistical Reflections on the 2013 Pew Report 'The World’s Muslims' (January 14, 2015). Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Spring 2014), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2549717

Arno Tausch (Contact Author)

University of Innsbruck - Department of Political Science ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 15
Innsbruck, Tirol 6020

Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration ( email )

Budapest H-1093

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