According to a major survey conducted last year by the Pew Research Center, adults in Egypt don’t crave Western-style democracy, as pundits have blithely trumpeted throughout coverage of the unrest.
Far from it, the vast majority of them want a larger role for Islam in government. This includes making barbaric punishments, such as stoning adulterers and executing apostates, the law of their country. With the ouster of their secular, pro-American leader, they may get their wish.
Among highlights from the Pew poll:
• 49% of Egyptians say Islam plays only a “small role” in public affairs under President Hosni Mubarak, while 95% prefer the religion play a “large role in politics.”
• 84% favor the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim faith.
• 82% support stoning adulterers.
• 77% think thieves should have their hands cut off.
• 54% support a law segregating women from men in the workplace.
• 54% believe suicide bombings that kill civilians can be justified.
• Nearly half support the terrorist group Hamas.
• 30% have a favorable opinion of Hezbollah.
• 20% maintain positive views of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.
• 82% of Egyptians dislike the U.S. — the highest unfavorable rating among the 18 Muslim nations Pew surveyed.
This empirical evidence refutes the sympathetic narrative broadcast as a continuous loop in the media over the past fortnight. Even after getting beat up by anti-American mobs, CNN’s Anderson Cooper portrayed rioters as largely secular yuppies yearning for modernity and the triumph of human rights over martial law.
He and other media elite have it exactly backwards: Egyptians are revolting against Western-style democracy. The Pew poll reveals they do not, in fact, value our principles of individual freedoms, human rights and separation of religion and state.
I think we tend to forget that pure Democracy can be problematic. On a stranded island where three men and two women are practicing Democracy, the men could vote to rape, abuse and otherwise demean the women and Democracy would reign. Not that this would happen in an Arab state.
H/T Tom Elia.