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April 25, 2007

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Ms .45

"74% support the strict application of sharia law... 82% view democracy favorably."

What exactly do you think they mean by "strict application of sharia law" or "democracy"? For instance, does "sharia law" mean hudud laws? I note that Indonesians had a bulge in the "agree somewhat" category, and Indonesians in the past have not been known for their interest in cutting people's hands off. Are they thinking of issues such as corruption when they say they want sharia law?

Conversely, I don't want to crap on their idea of democracy - plenty of Westerners don't have a sophisticated idea of democracy - but I'm guessing they don't mean liberal democracy? This wasn't a terrible survey, but I'd still like better questions.

Also, when you finally get around to blogging about the Leiken vs. Muravchik debate, I've written something at http://jovialfellow.blogspot.com/2007/04/conservative-infighting-over-muslim.html

Bob Saccamanno

I take your point about "meaning" but this is a fundamental problem for any survey. When not explicitly defined as part of the questionnaire by the principal investigator, the standard answer is to tell the respondent, "x is whatever it means to you" so that the bias of definitions falls onto the respondent side of the equation rather than being influenced by the interviewer's understanding. And it is my understanding that this is the way PIPA handles things as well. Your point would be stronger were this a survey specifically about application of Shari`ah or of democratic practices where you could delve into more specifics. Researchers have to balance not having too many questions (which causes people to opt out and creates nonresponse error) against posing more detailed questions to aid interpretation of results.

Ms .45

Oh, I'm not criticising the survey itself - it's just frustrating because I know that mainstream media are likely to report this as "ZOMG Mooslims want to cut off ur handz!!!1!" (my own government has been quite happy to wave the 'strict sharia law' red flag to frighten the electorate), which is why I crave more detail.

I used to do market research in a call centre (please forgive me) and it was so frustrating when people would ask "what do you mean by that?" and I wasn't allowed to tell them (and yes, my calls were monitored). After about three weeks we had Christmas holidays and they phoned and told me not to come back. Best sacking ever.

Benjamin Cook

The debate shouldn't be framed in an Islam / Democracy way. Rather is sould be Religion / Democracy. Eventually a "State" religion will discriminate against those that do not practice. This is an act of "othering" that leads down all sorts of roads. (One of which is political violence.) This act of othering will eventually deny equal access to the public apparatus. This access is a pillar of democracy. It is necessary but not sufficient.

You can have all the religous political parties you like. But codified "State" religions will never meet even the basic definitions of democracy, much less... Liberal Democracy. So let's not waste further time debating something that comes up lame right out of the gate. Islam is not compatible with Democracy, nor is Christianity or Hinduism if you are trying to codify its importance or preeminence.

B.
http://arenablog.blogspot.com

Moloch-Agonistes

While of course violence against other human beings is unfortunate and would never be be endorsed by me, I'm not so sure I would see the 91% support for attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq as evidence of an "Al Qaida worldview." Unless, oh I don't know, Ahmed Ben Bella was a member of Al Qaida. Don't even know that it's such a setback for America on the political plane, unless one wants to maintain troops in Iraq indefinitely. More of a status assessment. It's certainly a setback for the Bush State Department.

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