Political Islam in clash with West: Survey

The Peninsula

DOHA: Nearly 50 percent of Arabs living in the Middle East believe that Islam is heading for a clash with the West, according to the latest poll commissioned by the Doha Debates.

A further 30 percent of respondents felt that “political Islam” poses a threat to the West, with a majority identifying the promotion of jihad as the principal threat.

The results mirror the vote at a recent session of the Doha Debates, where audience rejected a motion questioning whether political Islam is a threat to the West by 51 percent to 49 percent. The poll, conducted by YouGovSiraj, was carried out between January 26 and February 1 and surveyed the views of 970 Arabs in the Gulf, North Africa, and Levant.

Forty seven percent of the respondents believe that the current political climate is encouraging support for political Islam. A similar proportion is also of the opinion that Islam is heading for a clash with the West. However, opinions on this are largely divided with an almost equal number of people (42 percent) disagreeing with this notion.

Eighty five percent of those polled stated their perception of political Islam groups as either popular or extremely popular. As for the reasons of their popularity, 25 percent believe that they are the only alternative to the regimes while 23 percent said that they are not corrupt.

When asked which groups they consider as representative of political Islam, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah were most commonly cited. Interestingly, 26 percent of those interviewed didn’t see any of the listed groups as examples of political Islam.

A majority of the respondents- 60 percent- believe that Islam has been hijacked by extremists. One quarter of Arabs think political Islam is more of a threat to Muslims than it is to the West, with nearly a half believing it is tainting the religion’s good name.

Sixty eight percent of the surveyed said that they didn’t believe politics and religion should be separated in the Muslim world.

Posted march 01, 2009, The Peninsula

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