Dalia Mogahed, a Gallup pollster and author of Who Speaks for Islam?, gave a fascinating TED talk, “The attitudes that sparked the Arab Spring.” Mogahed focuses on Arab countries and discusses the results of surveys administered prior to the so-called Arab Spring.
There are many, many anti-Islamic, anti-Arab blogs online. I just looked at one and read the following:
The central question is:
What is wrong with the Islamic world, and how will it reform?
The basic problem is very clear. It is that millions of people in the Islamic world do not believe in free speech, freedom of religion, democracy, a secular state, free enterprise and human rights.
Mogahed’s statistics blatantly contradict such bold and bald claims.
94% of Egyptian respondents believe that free speech is a fundamental right. Similar results were found in other Arab countries: 92% in Iran, 90% in Indonesia, 88% in Turkey and 82% in Pakistan.
88% of Egyptians long for democracy.
The blogger’s claim about millions of people in the Islamic world is technically true but woefully misleading. If 6% of Egyptians and 8% of Iranians, etc. oppose democracy and free speech, then millions of Muslims oppose democracy and free speech. But, and here’s the key point—vastly many more Muslims support democracy and free speech.
Consider an analogy: 97% of American polled said that they believe that free speech is a fundamental right. That means that 3% don’t think that free speech is a fundamental right. Given that the US has about 300,000,000 people, about 9,000,000 US citizens don’t think that free speech is a fundamental right. So, millions of people in the democratic West don’t believe in free speech and democracy.
The blogger’s claims above are just a way of lying with statistics.
To repeat the claim of an earlier blog, most Muslims are a lot like us. For example, what do Egyptians most want for their country? Jobs, economic development, stability and education. They don’t want more policing of their lives.
There is a newfound faith in Arab countries that they can achieve democracy and rule of law through peaceful practices.