Fears of an inevitable "clash of civilisations" between the west and Islam may be exaggerated, according to a global survey that shows a majority of people see positive links between cultures and believe that politics, rather than religion, is the primary cause of international disputes.
A Globescan poll of 27 countries for the BBC World Service found the most common view is that tensions between Muslims and westerners arise from "conflicts about political power and interests" - endorsed by 52% overall. Three in 10 (29%) say such tensions arise mostly from "differences of religion and culture".
Asked if "violent conflict is inevitable" between Muslim and western cultures or whether "it is possible to find common ground" an average of 56% said that common ground can be found between the two cultures - the most common response in 25 countries. On average almost three in 10 (28%) think violent conflict is inevitable. Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, is the only country where this view predominates.
Encouragingly, education can play a role in bridging the gap. The belief that it is possible to find common ground between Islam and the west rises from 46% among those with no formal education to 64% amongst those with post-secondary education.
Strikingly, the poll reflects a belief that violent conflict is more common among Muslims (35%) than Christians (27%) or others (27%). But 52% of the 5,000 Muslims polled say it is possible to find common ground. Amongst the Middle Eastern countries surveyed, that included majorities in Lebanon (68%) and Egypt (54%) and pluralities in Turkey (49%) and the United Arab Emirates (47%).
"Most people round the world clearly reject the idea that Islam and the west are caught in an inevitable clash of civilisations," said Steven Kull, director of the Programme on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which was also involved in the survey of 28,000 people. [...]
Monday, February 19, 2007
This is actually a Guardian article, but MPAC's title adds so much: