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January 30, 2007


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Erik Nisbet

Just a couple comments

1. On the question of which would be better for business - democracy or religious leadership - most likely they were trying to get at whether Shari’a Law would be perceved as good for business/economic development. There were several questions about that point on the Zogby/Telhami survey of the Arab world in October 2005 as well. Its not only about framing persuasive messages to those who are highly supportive of political Islam, but the undecided populace who do not have hardened opinions either way (most likely the majority of the populace). Using economic ramifications/consequences of political choices may be one strategic framing device to shape public opinion on the question of democracy vs. religious rule - especially among undecided populace for whom economic considerations are salient.

2. I think we should be careful about whether to consider 58% credibility rating for media "low" or "high" - especially since that is much higher than credibiliy/believability ratings of U.S. media -see http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=1069 from Pew. By what standard is such a normative judgement made?



I agree that the question about democracy or religion/economic performance is an important question, but what's odd in at least the presentation of the survey is that - as reported - it seems like it's being used as proxy for "support for democracy/religion". My point was that even it's a bad proxy for the more basic question, even if it's interesting on its own terms.

Re the media credibility, it isn't a normative judgement - it's relative to credibility ratings for other (non-official) media as measured in other surveys.

Erik Nisbet

Hi Marc,

Thanks so much for the response. On the first point, it could be merely a case of bad reporting/over interpretation of poll results by the journalist/newspaper rather than the poll conductor if you are getting the results from a media source (which happens everywhere). I guess I was coming at it from a survey researcher's viewpoint where I could see asking and phrasing that question in that way if I wanted to see how individuals evaluated the relative economic merits of each type of regime in order to craft strategic messages. But you are very right that it is being misrepresented if the question is being used as an indicator of general support for democracy vs. religious rule.

Regarding the second item, thank you for clarifying. I guess it was unclear to me whether you were comparing public media credibility in Jordan to other countries or to other forms of media in Jordan. I will note that 58% credibility rating for govt. controlled media is on par with averages in other contexts, for example in Sub-Sahara Africa the mean percentage of the public that trust govt. media is around 60% according to the Afrobarometer surveys.

Batir Wardam

Hi Mr March you can download the executive summary of the poll in Arabic from http://www.jcss.org/UploadEvents/27.doc

Radi Radi

The poll is consistently used by Jordanian governments to promote Agendas, an ex-communist and state-and-church seperationist who is currently a member of the parliament is trying to push a constitutional amendment towards eliminating Jordan's official religion (Islam obviously) from the constitution.

Lacking polls and figures was one shortcoming of his and now he has an almost complete arguement, although unlikely to pass.

The government is aware of the (unfortunate) growing power of the islamists in the populace while they can clearly do nothing to deny them the claims for sharia government.

The problem of democracy in Jordan is complicated, while the biggest party is the Islamic Work Front or its affiliates, its comes as no surprise as it is the only party in Jordan with any type of real membership, inspired by their constant charitable efforts and their work in impoverished area and areas where the citizens are of Palestinian descent. They keep the dreams of liberation alive for those two demographics and so they get their support. Just like Nasser did in the 50s and 60s only with an Islamic twist.

The unfortunate situation leaves Jordan with no parties but the one-MP parties whose Agendas are the reelection of that member.

I really think the wrong questions were asked intentionally, if the people were asked if they would like to see more Sharia based laws, i think the figure will jump to the mid-30s to mid-5os, which is substantial. People are dissatisfied with the current religious leadership because of their inanimate role, the signing of the 1994 peace treaty was ratified while they held the deciding votes (11 of 80) in the parliament, they did not show up for that vote or many other critical votes.

However, talking about the respect of sects (Shia) in Jordan, 6% of Jordan are Christians and continue to practice freely, it should come as no surprise that Muslims feel Shia have the same if not more rights as christians, but probably not as Sunnis.

just my Point of View
Thank you for your wonderful site, and keep going

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