Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

Trust in radical Islamist movements plummets, major survey finds

A poll of more than 25,000 people in the Arab world has charted a decline in support for groups like Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood

Supporters of Hezbollah in Lebanon gather near a giant poster of their leader Hassan Nasrallah in September, 2018. AFP
Supporters of Hezbollah in Lebanon gather near a giant poster of their leader Hassan Nasrallah in September, 2018. AFP

Trust in radical and militant groups in the Arab world has slumped significantly, according to a major new survey.

Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas have fallen in public opinion in the years since the Arab uprisings, research commissioned by BBC News Arabic found.

More than 25,000 Arabs in 11 states and territories - Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, Sudan and Lebanon - were asked their views on everything from religion to mental health and homosexuality to women's role in society.

A sharp drop in trust for groups espousing political and radical Islam was among the key findings.

Trust in political Islam has declined significantly overall. Roy Cooper / The National
Trust in political Islam has declined significantly overall. Roy Cooper / The National

In Jordan and Morocco, trust in groups like the Muslim Brotherhood dropped by about 20 per cent since 2012-2013. In Sudan, support dropped by 25 per cent - from 49 per cent to just 24 per cent.

“This pattern continues a general trend of decline in trust for Islamists in Mena, which has been taking place across the region since the Arab uprisings,” the survey's authors, the Arab Barometer research network, said on Monday.

“Despite the initial success of Islamist movements in Egypt and Tunisia, there is increasing evidence that Islamism has been in decline over the last eight years.”

Participants were asked about Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, the radical Tunisian political party Ennahda - whose security service is accused of assassinating secular rivals - and Hamas. They were interviewed between late 2018 and the spring of 2019.

Support for Ennahda fell by 24 per cent, while in Palestine support for militant groups like Hamas dropped from 48 per cent to 22 per cent in the same period.

The survey also found a rising number of Arabs are turning their backs on religion - almost one in five young people aged 18-29 said they were 'non-religious'.

The research also touched on mental health - about one in three said they felt depressed and that rose to 43 per cent of respondents in Iraq.

The poll also revealed attitudes on homosexuality and honour killings. In 10 of the 11 countries, a majority said honour killings were more acceptable than being gay.

Updated: June 24, 2019 06:30 PM

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