Most Muslims Want Democracy, Personal Freedoms, and Islam in Political Life
More than a year after the first stirrings of the Arab Spring, there continues to be a strong desire for democracy in Arab and other predominantly Muslim nations. Solid majorities in Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan believe democracy is the best form of government, as do a plurality of Pakistanis.
Indeed, these publics do not just support the general notion of democracy - they also embrace specific features of a democratic system, such as competitive elections and free speech.
A substantial number in key Muslim countries want a large role for Islam in political life. However, there are significant differences over the degree to which the legal system should be based on Islam.
The United States is not seen as promoting democracy in the Middle East. In newly democratic Tunisia, only about three-in-ten believe the American response to the political upheaval in their country has had a positive impact.
Despite the tumult and uncertainty of the last year, views about democracy are mostly unchanged since 2011, although support has declined somewhat in Jordan. Enthusiasm for democracy tends to be generally less intense in Jordan and in Pakistan. It is consistently strong in Lebanon and Turkey.
While democratic rights and institutions are popular, they are clearly not the only priorities in the six Muslim majority nations surveyed. In particular, the economy is a top concern. And if they had to choose, most Jordanians, Tunisians and Pakistanis would rather have a strong economy than a good democracy. Turks and Lebanese, on the other hand, would prefer democracy. Egyptians are divided.