This article reevaluates the April 2013 PEW data on “The World’s Muslims” covering 23 countries and comprising at least 56.6 percent of the total global Muslim population. It presents population-weighted estimates of the 18 PEW indicators for the entire adult Muslim population in these 23 countries. The article also presents a UNDP type Index of Muslim Tolerance (Index of the emancipation of Muslim publics from authoritarian and Islamist thought patterns), which is based on 18 sub-indicators of the PEW study. Kazakhstan, Albania, and Bosnia are the best performers, while Afghanistan, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories are at the bottom. Gender issues and human rights should receive a top priority regarding the EU membership perspectives for Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Turkey.
In 2005, on the pages of this journal, Hayat Alvi maintained that there was considerable evidence of trends in regressive social transformation regarding the situation of women in Arab countries. One such manifestation, Alvi quite correctly said at that time was “the prevailing attitudes and social policies that continue to deny women their fundamental human rights and freedoms.” Alvi already predicted “cultural and nationalistic attitudes, which engender a degree of suspicion towards, and perhaps outright rejection in principle of, anything perceived as Western-modeled human development programs.” Traditions, the author maintained, were deeply entrenched, and “[w]hat the traditional Islamic establishment calls for today is more reminiscent of the patriarchal attitudes, practices, and beliefs that actually predate Islam, in many cases rendering to contemporary Islamic societies an anachronistic medieval aura, totally incompatible with modernity.”
In 2004, France, as mentioned by Alvi, expelled five Muslim clerics spreading extremist interpretations of Islam. In one case, Abdelkader Bouziane was deported for advocating wife beating, stoning, and other views at odds with what the competent authorities of the French Republic interpreted as the principles of the modern French state. Unfortunately many Western publics, including liberal and secular political forces, seem to look the other way when such issues emerge or when such issues are debated. In April 2013, however, the Opinion Research Center PEW presented its report on “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society.”
This report was a real watershed in the hitherto existing debate about mass support for authoritarian and Islamist thought patterns among Muslim publics in predominantly Muslim societies. For the first time, contentious issues–such as the acceptability rate of honor killings, stoning as a punishment for adultery, and rejections of mixed marriages–were included in the questionnaire for the representative samples of the Muslim populations in 23 countries, comprising at least 56.6 percent of the global Muslim population, now estimated to be 1.486 billion people. Of course, the present author holds the view with most scholars who have written extensively on the subject that honor killings, stoning as a punishment for adultery, and rejections of mixed marriages are an outcome of extreme cultural practices, which deceive many into believing that “Islam as such” (“der Islam an sich”) is at fault. In fact, though, these extreme regimes and extreme authoritarian thought patterns do contradict the beliefs spelled out by the Koran.
Laudable, as earlier successive relevant studies and statistical data sets by the World Values Survey, the Arab Barometer, as well as the Arab Opinion Index might have been, it is a fact that in their questionnaires, they still excluded some of these customs, which indeed can be “hard” cultural and political issues of “integration,” especially in the countries of the European Union. However, not to analyze possible existing support for such structures, and to look the other way, is unacceptable and undermines the very Enlightenment traditions and liberal values, on which democracy is built.
The data, presented by the PEW Institute, render themselves for further impartial statistical analysis, which is the single principle aim of this article. Such a statistical secondary analysis is necessary, because the results shown in the PEW report sometimes imply a rejection of, even consent to practices as stoning, honor killings, polygamy, and the like. Presented below are the formulations of the PEW questions, which would make a real final comparison of the results possible. In addition, the current study constructs an Index of the emancipation of Muslim publics from authoritarian and Islamist thought patterns.
The current study’s Index of Muslim Tolerance (Index of the emancipation of Muslim publics from authoritarian and Islamist thought patterns) is of the type of other indices developed by the United Nations Human Development Program (such as the Human Development Index) and is based on 18 sub-indicators. The percentage results for each country are standardized on a scale, ranging from 0-1 for all countries under scrutiny here. Presented here below are the formulations that were used to calculate the Index:
- Honor Killings permissible: male offender (reject)
- Honor Killings permissible: female offender (reject)
- Wife must obey husband (reject)
- Islam alone leads to heaven (reject)
- % not worried by Muslim extremists (reject)
- Suicide bombing justified (reject)
- % favor making Shari’a the law of the country (reject)
- Shari’a should apply for all citizens, not Muslims only (reject)
- Stoning adequate punishment for adultery (reject)
- Death penalty for leaving Islam (reject)
- Gender bias in accepting honor killings (high gender bias a phenomenon not compatible with a tolerant society)
- Polygamy morally acceptable (reject)
- Converting others is a religious duty (reject)
- No knowledge about Christianity (reject = i.e. knowledge about Christianity)
- Islam and Christianity are very different (reject)
- Not comfortable with son marrying a Christian (reject)
- Not comfortable with daughter marrying a Christian (reject)
- Gender bias being uncomfortable with religiously mixed marriage (high gender bias a phenomenon not compatible with a tolerant society)
The standardization presupposes the well-known UNDP formula: Subtract the value of worst performing country of the group considered from the value of the country currently under investigation, then divide this value by the difference between best and the worst performing country. The resulting indicators will always be between 1.0 (best index value) and 0.0 (worst index value).
The PEW sample included representative samples (sample sizes from around 1.000 to 1.800 interview partners) of Muslims in the following countries:
- Palestinian territories
The following insight into the true mass support for Islamism and authoritarian thought patterns in the Muslim world was obtained by applying appropriate population weights:
|Percent of total Muslims in the world saying or of the opinion (population weighted results)|
|Not comfortable with daughter marrying a Christian||92.29%|
|No knowledge about Christianity||87.63%|
|Wife must obey husband||86.14%|
|Islam alone leads to heaven||85.58%|
|Not comfortable with son marrying a Christian||85.56%|
|% favor making sharia the law of the country||70.08%|
|Islam and Christianity are very different||68.65%|
|% not worried by Muslim extremists||65.45%|
|Converting others is a religious duty||60.32%|
|Stoning adequate punishment for adultery||45.37%|
|Honor killings permissible: female offender||45.15%|
|Honor killings permissible: male offender||42.65%|
|Death penalty for leaving Islam||34.82%|
|Polygamy morally acceptable||31.86%|
|Shari’a should apply for all citizens, not Muslims only||31.48%|
|Suicide bombing justified||15.25%|
Also, the country results for the different indicators of the PEW study are rendering themselves for further scholarly reflections in the fields of sociology, political science, and economics. Two examples are the acceptability of honor killings (offender of the honor code: female) and the acceptability of stoning as an adequate punishment for adultery:
|% acceptability of honor killings (offender of the honor code: female) among the total Muslim population of the country|
|% acceptability of stoning as an adequate punishment for adultery among the total Muslim population of the country|
If one follows the mentioned United Nations Human Development Program standard statistical practice and projects the results of all the 18 indicators of this study onto a single scale, ranging from 0 to 1, one finally gets the final values for the study’s Index of Muslim Tolerance (Index of the emancipation of Muslim publics from authoritarian and Islamist thought patterns), which ranges from 0 to 1 (all 18 indicators contribute equally to the final index):
|An Index of Muslim Tolerance (Index of the emancipation of Muslim publics from authoritarian and Islamist thought patterns), based on the 18 indicators of the PEW Study|
Arab Muslims in Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco show the best-practice models with the highest values on our Index for the other Arab countries to follow.
Compared to other societal experiences around the globe, which all reflect the truth of the classic hypothesis by Bernard Lewis that Islam as a religion and as a culture should not be blamed for the customs of some of the peoples who adopted it, indeed one can say that the other Arab countries in the sample–Iraq, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Egypt–severely lack a liberal civil society. Therefore, prospects for democracy in the region (with the exceptions of Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco) are rather bad. Preliminary multivariate analyses, whose details are beyond the scope of this article, have shown that with development levels and past Soviet or Communist rule constant, “social Keynesian variables” like social security expenditure per GDP, comparative price levels (US=1.00), the UNDP education index, the Human Development Index (HDI), and the World Economic Forum scores of closing of the gender gap are among the most significant positive predictors of the current study’s Indicator performance (emancipation of Muslim publics from authoritarian and Islamist thought patterns), i.e., good and decent social policies indeed can increase the amount of tolerance in a country. In addition, the application of standard multivariate factor analysis with the statistical program IBM-SPSS XXI yielded practically the same results as those shown above. In the detailed tables of this article, some of the real existing problems of the possible south-eastward enlargement of the European Union in the years to come are also highlighted. With Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Turkey not too distantly away from the entry gates of the European Union, the acceptability rates of honor killings in these possible future full-member states of the European Union will amount up to one-third of their entire Muslim population, and the acceptability rates of terrorist suicide bombings will be as high as one-sixth of their entire Muslim population.
Table 1: The country percentage original results, based on the PEW data (percentages per total Muslim population of the country or territory) (countries on the trajectory to future EU-membership are highlighted in gray)
|Honor killings permissible: male offender||Honor killings permissible: female offender||Wife must obey husband||Islam alone leads to heaven||% not worried by Muslim extremists||Suicide bombing justified||% favor making Shari’a the law of the country||Shari’a should apply for all citizens, not Muslims only||Stoning adequate punishment for adultery||Death penalty for leaving Islam||Gender bias in accepting honor killings|
|Worst performance value||76.00||78.00||96.00||96.00||99.00||40.00||99.00||60.39||84.15||78.21||47.00|
|Best performance value||14.00||16.00||34.00||29.00||47.00||1.00||8.00||1.90||3.00||0.40||-14.00|
Table 1 (continued): Country percentage original results, based on the PEW data (percentages per total Muslim population of the country or territory) (countries on the trajectory to future EU-membership are highlighted in gray)
|Polygamy morally acceptable||Converting others is a religious duty||No knowledge about Christianity||Islam and Christianity are very different||Not comfortable with son marrying a Christian||Not comfortable with daughter marrying a Christian||Gender bias being uncomfortable with religiously mixed marriage||Index of Muslim Tolerance (Index of the emancipation of Muslim publics from authoritarian and Islamist thought patterns)|
|Worst performance value||66.00||96.00||94.00||87.00||94.00||100.00||17.00|
|Best performance value||4.00||15.00||49.00||16.00||23.00||25.00||2.00|
Table 2: Country UNDP type indicator component results, based on the PEW data
|Rejecting: Honor killings permissible: male offender||Rejecting: Honor killings permissible: female offender||Rejecting: Wife must obey husband||Rejecting: Islam alone leads to heaven||Rejecting: % not worried by Muslim extremists||Rejecting: Suicide bombing justified||Rejecting: % favor making Shari’a the law of the country||Rejecting: Shari’a should apply for all citizens, not Muslims only||Rejecting: Stoning adequate punishment for adultery||Rejecting: Death penalty for leaving Islam||Gender bias in accepting honor killings (high gender bias a phenomenon not compatible with a tolerant society)|
Table 2 (continued): Country UNDP type indicator component results, based on the PEW data
|Rejecting: Polygamy morally acceptable||Rejecting: Converting others is a religious duty||Knowledge about Christianity||Rejecting: Islam and Christianity are very different||Rejecting: Not comfortable with son marrying a Christian||Rejecting: Not comfortable with daughter marrying a Christian||Gender bias being uncomfortable with religiously mixed marriage (high gender bias a phenomenon not compatible with a tolerant society)||Index of Muslim Tolerance (Index of the emancipation of Muslim publics from authoritarian and Islamist thought patterns)|
This article has shown again weak points in the structures of civil society and the weight of traditionalist customs and authoritarian thought patterns in many Muslim countries of the world. The weak societal tolerance performance in the Palestinian territories and in Egypt especially bode ill for a full-fledged democratic future there. With societal structures being as they are, the way out for the secular and anti-Islamist forces in Egypt will be difficult, but nevertheless must be attempted:
|Egypt – Muslim population; percentages from the PEW study|
|Suicide bombing justified||29.00|
|Polygamy morally acceptable||41.00|
|Shari’a should apply for all citizens, not Muslims only||54.76|
|Islam and Christianity are very different||56.00|
|Honor killings permissible: Male offender||59.00|
|Stoning adequate punishment for adultery||59.94|
|Death penalty for leaving Islam||63.64|
|Honor killings permissible: Female offender||69.00|
|% favor making Shari’a the law of the country||74.00|
|% not worried by Muslim extremists||78.00|
|No knowledge about Christianity||78.00|
|Not comfortable with son marrying a Christian||83.00|
|Wife must obey husband||85.00|
|Converting others is a religious duty||88.00|
|Islam alone leads to heaven||96.00|
|Not comfortable with daughter marrying a Christian||100.00|
It is to be hoped that the PEW Institute repeats the survey so that intertemporal shifts can be estimated, and also, access to the original anonymized survey results would be necessary to run multivariate analyses of the drivers of such opinion patterns.
Most of the other implications of this article must be left to the reader, but it is certain that a current high acceptability of such phenomena as honor killings, stoning, and suicide bombing by a third or even more of the entire population in current EU-candidates and potential future EU-candidates makes a mockery of the very fundamentals of the European Union, which state that:
The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail
The decisionmakers of the European Union would do well not to sweep such issues under the carpet. In a society based on tolerance there can be no place for stoning and honor killings.
*Arno Tausch is Associate Professor of Economics at Corvinus University Budapest, Hungary, and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Innsbruck University, Austria. He is author of, among others, What 1.3 Billion Muslims Really Think: An Answer to a Recent Gallup Study, Based on the ‘World Values Survey (Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2009).
 Hayat Alvi, “The Human Rights of Women and Social Transformation in the Arab Middle East,” Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, Vol. 9, No. 2 (June 2005), http://www.gloria-center.org/2005/06/alvi-2005-06-08/.
 Ibid, quoted above.
 “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society,” PEW Research Center, Religion & Public Life Project, April 30, 2013, http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-overview/ (accessed March 6, 2014).
 With Bernard Lewis and a host of other scholars, the present author believes that Islam as a religion and as a culture should not be blamed for the customs of some of the peoples who adopted it. See Bernard Lewis and Buntzie Ellis Churchill, Islam: The Religion and the People (Indianapolis: Wharton Press, 2009). See also Kathleen Miller, “The Other Side of the Coin: A Look at Islamic Law as Compared to Anglo-American Law — Do Muslim Women Really Have Fewer Rights than American Women?” New York International Law Review, Vol. 16 (2003), p. 65, http://ssrn.com/abstract=1459040 (accessed March 6, 2014) and Kathleen Miller, “Who Says Muslim Women Don’t Have the Right to Divorce? – A Comparison Between Anglo-American Law and Islamic Law,” New York International Law Review, Vol. 22 (August 2009), p. 201, http://ssrn.com/abstract=1459062 (accessed March 6, 2014). For another interesting analysis, featuring Turkey, see Kemal Yildirim, “Social Changes and Their Impact on Women in Turkey and Its Membership to the EU,” Journal of Women’s Entrepreneurship and Education, No. 3-4, (2010), pp. 80-93, http://www.ien.bg.ac.rs/images/stories/Izdavastvo/Casopis%20JWE/2010/10_jwe_3-4_7.pdf (accessed March 6, 2014).
 The Arab Opinion Project: The Arab Opinion Index, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, April 29, 2012, http://english.dohainstitute.org/release/5083cf8e-38f8-4e4a-8bc5-fc91660608b0 (accessed March 6, 2014).
 “Muslim Population: Countries Compared,” Nation Master, http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/rel_isl_pop-religion-islam-population (accessed March 6, 2014) and United States Department of State, Kosovo 2012 International Religious Freedom Report, www.state.gov/documents/organization/208542.pdf (accessed March 6, 2014).
 IBM-SPSS 21 calculations (partial correlations) based on the freely available data collection, “Dataset for ‘Globalization, the Human Condition and Sustainable Development in the 21st Century,” Middle East Studies Online Journal, October 12, 2010, http://www.social-sciences-and-humanities.com/journal/?p=3402 (accessed March 6, 2014). As to such global development comparisons, see Arno Tausch, Almas Heshmati, and Ulrich Brand, Globalization, the Human Condition and Sustainable Development in the 21st Century Cross-national Perspectives and European Implications. (London, New York and Delhi: Anthem Press, 2012).
 IBM SPSS 21 calculations, based on IBM-SPSS Promax factor analysis. The country factors scores for the calculation of the final index were used with reverted signs and weighted by the percentage of the total variance, each factor explains. The country value factor loadings suggest to call the five factors: longing for the Middle Ages; against intermarriage; gender bias in accepting honor killings; no knowledge of Christianity; and doctrinal differences emphasized. The five countries or territories with the highest incidence of Islamism, understood as the combination of these five component factors were: Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Palestinian territories, and Iraq. The UNDP type index, based on the unweighted means of the component indices, and the factor analytical index have almost 97 percent of variance in common. It will be interesting to calculate the factor analytical results at the individual level once the PEW releases its original survey results with tens of thousands of interview partners, in SPSS or SAS format.
 Amendments to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty Establishing the European Community, Article 1, Preamble, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/dat/12007L/htm/C2007306EN.01001001.htm.