Islamic nations rightly shun American ambitions

So much for the Muslim’s world love of America and Barack Obama. Why the hell would they? (via IPS):

Despite continuous assurances that the United States favours democratic rule during the 18-month-old “Arab Spring”, majorities or pluralities in six predominantly Muslim countries see Washington as an obstacle to their democratic aspirations, according to a new survey released here Tuesday.

Indeed, Saudi Arabia is generally seen as a stronger advocate of democracy than the U.S. in all six nations, although not as strong as Turkey, according to the… poll… by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

The survey, which covered Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Tunisia and Turkey, also found a strong desire in all six countries not only for democratic government, but also for specific concepts associated with democratic governance, including free elections, freedom of religion, free speech, and equal rights for women.

At the same time, majorities of respondents in Pakistan (82 percent), Jordan (72 percent), and Egypt (60 percent) said said they believed their nations’ laws “should strictly follow the teachings of the Quran”.

In Tunisia and Turkey, on the other hand, majorities and pluralities said the law “should follow the values and principles of Islam”, while in Lebanon, the country with the largest percentage of Christians, a 42 percent plurality, said laws “should not be influenced by the Quran”.

The survey, which was conducted from mid-March to mid-April, was part of Pew’s annual series on global attitudes that has run over the last 12 years. A total of 26,000 respondents in 21 countries were interviewed in the poll whose findings on specific issues, such as attitudes toward Iran’s nuclear programme and the popularity of various international leaders, have been and will continue to be released over a period of months.

Because the polling was done in the spring, the latest release, which is focused on attitudes in the six countries as the “Arab Spring” has evolved, does not take account of various recent events, such as the presidential elections and ongoing power struggle in Egypt; the past week’s elections in Libya; the drift toward civil war in Syria and its government’s increased tensions with Turkey and Lebanon; renewed sectarian tensions in Bahrain; and the latest accord between Pakistan and the U.S. re-opening NATO supply routes to Afghanistan – some or all of which could have an impact on respondents’ answers to some questions.

In terms of respondents’ desire for democratic government, the survey found few changes from similar questions posed in last year’s poll, with the greatest enthusiasm found in Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt.

And while democratic governance remained popular, most respondents in Jordan, Tunisia, and Pakistan said they would rather have a “strong economy” than a “good democracy”. Egyptians were roughly split on the issue, while Turks and Lebanese favoured democracy over a strong economy.

Asked whether respondents would have more confidence in democracy as opposed to a “strong leader”, strong majorities in Lebanon (80 percent), Turkey (68 percent), Egypt and Tunisia (61 percent) opted for democracy, as did a 49-percent plurality in Jordan. By contrast, 61 percent of Pakistanis opted for a “strong leader”.

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