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Interpreting a poll of Egyptians

Reader comment on item: Why Egypt Will Not Soon Become Democratic

Submitted by John in Michigan, USA (United States), Feb 4, 2011 at 15:12

A friend asked me about some poll results from http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1874/egypt-protests-democracy-islam-influence-politics-islamic-extremism

The quote was:

Asked whether there is a struggle in their nations between those who want to modernize their country and Islamic fundamentalists, a 61%-majority of Muslims in Egypt said they did not see a struggle. Just 31% of Egyptian Muslims saw a struggle between modernizers and fundamentialists in their country. Among the seven Muslim publics surveyed in 2010, only in Jordan (20%) did fewer say they saw such a struggle.

Here is my take:

One interpretation may be, of the large, monotheist religions, Islam is the newest. Therefore some of those 61% of Egyptians may consider that there is no conflict (Islam=the only legitimate form of modernity). Under this view, what Westerners define as modernity, Islamists define as not something new, but rather, as the oldest form of sin (e.g. materialism, which has existed at least as long, in their minds, as the world's oldest profession). This would be consistent with the traditionalist, conservative strain of Islam.

Another interpretation, perhaps more compatible with the Muslim Brotherhood's views, might be that Islam is timeless, and is already compatible with modernity, so there is no issue.

Yet another interpretation is from what one might call an Islamist 'reform' movement. A typical position of these 'reformers' might be that Jihad used to mean armed struggle, but in modern times Jihad means the internal struggle for self-improvement. I have met a number optimistic, excited (and almost certainly, naive) young Muslims who believe this and really, really, really want me to believe this. These reformers would acknowledge that Islam needs (needed?) to change, but that change has now been accomplished and therefore they would tell the pollsters there is no conflict (no longer any conflict?) between Islam and modernity. My sense is that the Muslim Brotherhood would tolerate these reformers only as long as they are useful.

Finally, some Egyptians may remember the (relatively?) cosmopolitan Egypt of the '70's, full of promise. But I suspect they would not poll in the 61%


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Reader comments (43) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Islamic countries should stop calling themselves Islamic [519 words]PrashantJan 20, 2017 00:40235590
Mincor correction in my message above [128 words]PrashantJan 21, 2017 01:07235590
1Egypt is the canary in the gold mine [124 words]StasJan 20, 2013 04:37202681
Secular anything is better than a theocracy [185 words]PrashantJan 22, 2017 15:05202681
1Good points [134 words]Peter HerzFeb 11, 2011 19:38182555
1hmmm, i think ive seen that sword logo before [31 words]gemFeb 11, 2011 19:02182551
1Islam and the Future of Planet Earth [14 words]MorganFeb 11, 2011 15:58182546
4About Democracy in Egypt [739 words]Rafi LaufertFeb 11, 2011 07:25182539
Why Egyot will not soon become democratic [174 words]sufi imdad ali soomroFeb 10, 2011 23:37182523
Treaty [39 words]Barry BlackFeb 6, 2011 16:35182370
Ptolomeu and Egyptians [80 words]Breno LimaFeb 6, 2011 14:13182368
1Egypt's status: More of the same or just about [309 words]JACQUES HADIDAFeb 6, 2011 13:41182365
5The Muslim brotherhood flag/logo revisited [122 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 6, 2011 09:26182360
3Illusion and desillusion [123 words]Gabriel AngeFeb 6, 2011 06:55182357
1Illusion and disillusion [291 words]Gabriel AngeFeb 7, 2011 05:23182357
2Democracy in Egypt? No chance [78 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 6, 2011 06:26182355
"Commonality of Values" [43 words]Aminu Adamu BelloFeb 6, 2011 03:52182353
1prospects of democracy in egypt [162 words]prakash khatiwalaFeb 6, 2011 02:23182352
1No chance for democracy [17 words]Sylvia S.Feb 5, 2011 16:22182334
1Look at History [167 words]AfriconFeb 5, 2011 15:19182333
Egypt [12 words]Jon PuriznahskyFeb 5, 2011 13:58182326
4no democracy without religious freedom [103 words]alan glaserFeb 5, 2011 13:31182322
Democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not Egypt? [29 words]SkepticFeb 5, 2011 12:14182319
A sense of right and justice [95 words]Paula Clare YatesFeb 5, 2011 07:18182311
1Election troubles? What troubles? [76 words]UgriFeb 5, 2011 03:43182306
Muslim Paranoia - Why Egypts will not advance to democracy anytime soon [113 words]David MacKAYFeb 5, 2011 02:01182305
Pipes makes sense - where in history have we seen anything different - even the American revolution wasn't a rush job. [106 words]DallasFeb 5, 2011 01:45182304
1Requirements for democracy in Egypt [74 words]yonatan silvermanFeb 5, 2011 00:00182302
Hosni Mubarak [49 words]seadog4227Feb 4, 2011 22:09182295
Fear Not [86 words]Barry BlackFeb 4, 2011 20:37182291
2Mr Pipes is hopefully wrong [256 words]Devils advocateFeb 4, 2011 18:23182284
To Devils advocate [107 words]John in Michigan, USAFeb 4, 2011 22:41182284
4Democracy starts in the womb. [178 words]batya daganFeb 4, 2011 17:54182283
Democracy and Theocracy [24 words]M. MoussaFeb 9, 2011 07:41182283
Hello Moussa [85 words]batya daganFeb 10, 2011 22:06182283
4free egypt [243 words]havasFeb 4, 2011 17:29182280
1Democracy In Egypt [22 words]Clifford IshiiFeb 4, 2011 20:00182280
Egypt not soon Democratic [9 words]Victoria ConroyFeb 4, 2011 17:04182279
Interpreting a poll of Egyptians [338 words]John in Michigan, USAFeb 4, 2011 15:12182277
The Ikhwan May Well Come to Power [71 words]JamesFeb 4, 2011 15:03182276
2Democracy in Egypt [32 words]AceFeb 4, 2011 13:01182271
on target [53 words]Howard BrownFeb 4, 2011 12:33182270
And if there is a vote, hopefully not :One person, one vote, one time." [115 words]Edmund Onward JamesFeb 4, 2011 11:25182267

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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