Three months in advance of the Egyptian elections, an extensive Gallup poll shows that while Egyptian citizens want religious authorities to advise their political leaders, they do not want a theocracy. The difference between people who wanted religious figures in an advisory role compared to those who wanted clerics to hold power was stark: while 7 out of 10 Egyptians said that they wanted religious figures to counsel governing officials, while only 14 percent said that they should have full authority. Only one percent of those surveyed favored an Iran-style theocracy.
These results show that the Muslim Brotherhood, which is favored to be a major victor in the September elections, may not have as much traction as people are predicting. The Muslim Brotherhood is a political party which favors a government guided by Islamic law. Although 60 percent of those polled said that they had no current political preference, only 15 percent said that they supported the Brotherhood.
According to the Associated Press, the poll also showed that Egypt and Lebanon’s citizens are most likely to “welcome a neighbor of another faith,” signaling religious tolerance. And a sizeable majority of citizens want religious freedom to be a provision in the constitution. Egyptians are also, according to the report, the least likely people of “any country in the world to say the targeting and killing of civilians is never justified.” This is important, given the fact that Egypt has a sizeable Christian minority. Inter-religious violence has flared up periodically over the past few months.
But the poll also pointed out something more dire: that many Egyptians are most concerned simply with putting food on the table. “Despite optimism, more than one-third of Egyptians said they have trouble feeding themselves and their family or providing for the most basic needs,” the study said.
You have to wonder how that will affect the elections, when they roll around.
Photo from Tschemo's Flickr photostream.
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