Tag: Pew Global Attitudes

Egypt vs. Indonesia in attitudes

By Razib Khan | February 2, 2011 2:35 pm

TNR has a post up, Egypt and Indonesia. In it, the author argues that:

At times of unexpected but momentous political change in distant countries, we grasp onto political analogies to help get our bearings. Even if we know they are imperfect, we can’t resist their tempting suggestiveness. But, if we cannot resist them, we can at least choose them thoughtfully. Invoking Iran after the Shah is scary indeed, but dangerously misleading. A different analogy that provides more useful grist for our unsettled analytic mill concerning Egypt is Indonesia and Suharto in the late 1990s.

We can gauge the force of this analogy by looking at a Pew Gobal Attitudes report on Muslim public opinion from December 2010. Egypt and Indonesia are in their set of countries surveyed. Below are a selection of results, with Turkey and Pakistan included in for comparisons. I ignored most of the stuff on Muslim radical movements. Additionally, one has to be cautious about interpreting survey data, as people will interpret questions in relation to their local situation. For example, below you will see that 89 and 46 percent of Indonesians and Pakistanis think that the role of religion in politics is “large.” I think empirically we have to conclude that Indonesians and Pakistanis are using the terms somewhat differently, as Indonesia is a much more robustly pluralist regime at this point than Pakistan is. Indonesia is not an officially Islamic state. Pakistan is. Indonesia forthrightly acknowledges its pre-Islamic heritage, and continues to have prominent symbolic roles for non-Muslim cultural forms. The Hindu epics are still popular on the most populous island of Java.

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