Monday, August 2, 2010

Apologia for the Pew Research Poll

The 2010 Pew Research poll found that Pakistanis overwhelmingly supported harsh punishments for various transgressions as prescribed in traditional Islam. C.H.U.P. attempts to find some nuance in the results.

I.M.O., this nuance-seeking mission creates more problems than it resolves.

In the case of the results generated in Pew’s Religion, Law, and Society section of the survey, respondents were asked black-and-white questions, like, “Do you favor or oppose making stoning people who commit adultery the law in Pakistan?” According to Moeed Yusuf, a South Asia Advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace, much of the so-called “Muslim World” find it difficult to go against anything seen as ordained by Islam. He added, “At an abstract level, Islam remains important to even the most secular of Muslims — remember Islam is very candid about state and religion being an integrated whole (at least in the classic narrative) and so such questions would elicit such responses.”

When faced with a choice between what they are supposed to say and what they actually practice, respondents tend to match abstract questions with equally abstract answers. However, Yusuf noted, “Do they want to be flogged or stoned for the same sin? No way. What about their own family members? Most probably not.”

How any communication can happen when you cannot say what you really think, but say only what you're supposed to say, is beyond me.

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