Trust in religious leaders dwindling in the Arab world
BBC study titled 'Do Arabs turn their backs on religion?' shows an increase in the number of people professing 'no religion'
(Photo by CHLOE SHARROCK/LE PICTORIUM/MAXPPP)
A BBC survey carried out in a dozen countries in the Middle East and North Africa shows a sharp erosion of confidence of people in religious leaders, and a significant increase in "no religion."
The Arab Barometer Study published by the BBC June 24 surveyed more than 25,000 people between late 2018 and spring 2019.
Respondents were in 10 countries (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Yemen) as well as in the Palestinian territories.
In the Arab world, between 2013 and 2019, the proportion of the population declaring itself "without religion" increased from 8% to 13%.
This is confirmed by a study by the Arab Barometer Statistical Study Group, linked to Princeton University in the United States and published by the BBC.
The proportion of "no religion" according to this study, would rise to 18% among those under 30 years of age.
"Do Arabs turn their backs on religion?" the title of this study, presented as the largest public opinion survey ever conducted in the North Africa and Middle East region, raises questions.
In addition to the increase in "no religion," which despite everything remains a very small minority, confidence in religious leaders is drastically eroding in all the countries surveyed, with the exception of Yemen.
In Iraq, for example, the confidence rate fell from over 40% to less than 15% of the population between 2013 and 2019.
Confidence in the various Islamist political parties present in these countries (Hezbollah in Lebanon, Ennahda in Tunisia, Hamas in the Palestinian territories, etc.) is also in free fall.
However, these countries remain very intensely imbued with an Islamic culture. Thus, in almost all countries, "honor killings" (murder by a relative of a person accused of "dishonoring" the family) are considered more acceptable than homosexuality.
It is considered "acceptable" by a minority of the population, ranging from 5% (Palestinian territories) to 26% (Algeria).
In the vast majority of these countries, more than half of those surveyed also consider that husbands should make all decisions concerning the family - including a majority of women.
Conversely, a majority of respondents would not see any problem in having a woman serve as president or prime minister.
Finally, in terms of foreign policy, Israel is still considered the "main threat" in the majority of the countries surveyed - the United States often occupying second place - while among foreign political leaders, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is widely acclaimed, far ahead of Vladimir Putin, and even more so Donald Trump.