Nine things you’ll learn from Pew’s poll of the world’s Muslims

Jamie Weinstein | Senior Writer

A Pew Research Center survey of the world’s Muslims released earlier this week had many interesting findings. The Daily Caller reviewed the survey and pulled out some of the most fascinating — and sometimes alarming — tidbits:

1.) A majority of Muslims in several countries think adulterers and apostates should be put to death 

According to the poll, 86 percent of Muslims in Pakistan, 84 percent in Afghanistan, 81 percent in the Palestinian territories, 80 percent in Egypt, 65 percent in Jordan, 57 percent in Iraq and 54 percent in Malaysia and Bangladesh favor stoning as a lethal punishment for adultery.

A majority of Muslims in several countries also support the death penalty for Muslims who convert away from Islam, including in Afghanistan (79 percent), Egypt (88 percent), Pakistan (75 percent), the Palestinian territories (62 percent), Jordan (83 percent) and Malaysia (58 percent).

2.) Muslims in Lebanon are much more moderate than their Middle East neighbors 

Only 29 percent of Lebanese Muslims said they wanted Shariah, or Islamic, law as the law of the land.

In contrast, in every other Arab country surveyed — Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia — a majority of Muslims indicated they supported Shariah. Muslim majorities in these Arab countries, with the exception of Tunisia, also indicated they either supported stoning adulterers or killing apostates, or both.

3.) A much more moderate brand of Islam predominates in Southern-Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Perhaps not surprising, but in contrast to the other regions surveyed, Southern-Eastern Europe and Central Asia seem to have much more moderate Muslim populations.

In none of the nine countries where Muslim opinion was measured in Southern-Eastern Europe and Central Asia — Russia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan — did a majority of Muslims favor Shariah law being the law of the land. In most the percentage of Muslim respondents who said they favor Shariah as the law of the land is 20 percent or lower.

Respondents who say they believe that stoning should be a punishment for adultery or that those who convert away from Islam should be put to death is also comparatively low.

4.) Things aren’t so bad in Turkey

While Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party may be gradually Islamicizing Turkey, the Turkish population doesn’t seem to want to be governed by Shariah law, assuming the Pew poll is to be trusted. Only 12 percent of Turkey’s Muslims say they want Shariah law as the law of the land. The poll also shows that nine percent of Turkey’s Muslims think stoning should be a punishment for adultery and eight percent think that those who convert away Islam should be put to death. These percentages are far lower than the percentages in many other Muslim countries surveyed

5.) Muslims are more concerned about Muslim extremism than Christian extremism 

Here in the West, academics and liberal media-types often bend over backwards in an effort to convince the public that the threat from radical Islam is no more or less serious than the threat from radical Christianity, Judaism or [insert any religion here].

But in almost every country Pew surveyed, Muslims themselves indicated the threat from Muslim extremism is more serious than the threat from Christian extremism — that is, if they didn’t indicate they feared both equally or neither.

Notably, in Iraq, 45 percent of respondents said they worried mostly about Muslim extremists groups, while only three percent said they worried mostly about Christian extremists groups. Sixteen percent said they worried about both Christian and Muslim extremist groups.

In Pakistan, 40 percent of respondents said they worried about mostly Muslim extremists groups, while only six percent said they worried mostly about Christian extremist groups. Six percent said they were concerned by both.

Even in Lebanon, which has a significant Christian population unlike Pakistan and Iraq, 19 percent of Muslim respondents said they mostly feared Muslim extremist groups, while just four percent said they feared mostly Christian extremist groups. Some 28 percent said they feared both. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, nearly 40 percent of the Lebanese population is Christian, while about 60 percent is Muslim.

6.) A high percentage of Palestinians and Afghanis say suicide-bombing civilians is justified

Forty percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories and 39 percent of Muslims in Afghanistan said attacking civilian targets to defend Islam is often or sometimes justified. Further, 18 percent of Muslims in Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories said such actions are “often” justified.

7.) Muslims in many countries don’t have a problem with honor killings

While majorities of Muslims — though rarely large majorities — surveyed in Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Southern-Eastern Europe reject honor killings in all circumstances, Muslims in South Asia and the Middle East-North Africa seem to have less of a problem with the heinous practice.

When a female commits the “offense” of pre-marital or extramarital sex, only 34 percent of Muslims in Jordan, 22 percent of Muslims in Iraq, 31 percent of Muslims in Egypt, 44 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories, 45 percent of Muslims in Lebanon and 24 percent of Muslims in Afghanistan said they think the girl’s family is ever justified to kill her protect the family’s honor. In most of the countries — though not all — men are given more leeway by respondents for similar “offenses.”

8.) Muslims say no to drinking, but yes to polygamy (in some countries)

A majority of Muslims in all countries surveyed said drinking, suicide, abortion (except for Azerbaijan), sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior is morally wrong. The results were more split on polygamy. Pluralities or majorities in Thailand, Malaysia, the Palestinian territories, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt called polygamy morally acceptable.

9.) Most Muslims say they prefer democracy 

Given the choice between having a strong leader and having democracy, Muslims in most countries surveyed said they preferred democracy. The only countries where a majority or plurality of respondents said they preferred a strongman were Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Given the survey results on Shariah law, it is unlikely that those who said they support democracy meant the liberal democracy that is commonplace in the West.

*This story has been updated. 

Editor’s Note: We did not include statistics from Sub-Saharan Africa since Pew relied on an older poll conducted in 2009-2009. You can view the survey here. 

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