This afternoon Kate, Arya, and I attended “Is there a Clash of Civilizations? What a Billion Muslims Really Think”, a presentation by Dr. Dalia Mogahed at Goucher College.  Dr. Dalia Mogahed is a senior analyst at the Gallup Poll and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, which recently concluded a poll of 1.3 billion Muslims in more than 35 nations.  The poll addressed a variety of political and cultural issues, many of them related to international relations and how Muslims view the West.  Some interesting points Dr. Mogahed discussed included:

  • When asked respondents were asked what they admire about the West, the top two responses in  both Western and Non-Western countries was Technology , and Liberty and Democracy
  • Most Muslims value Democracy and Self-determination, but most of those surveyed did not believe the US is sincere in its committment to spreading the former or supporting the latter except in Afghanistan
  • In a survey of how religion is portrayed in the Western media, Christianity was represented by religious leaders (such as clerics, members of a church institution, etc) 68%  of the time, while most representations of Islam (53%) came from militant radicals
  • Muslim respondents aspired towards the levels of development found in the West, but – like conservative Christians in the U.S. – most wanted their society to progress without sacrificing their core values
  • Respondents’ “dreams for the future” centered around jobs and education for their children – in fact, with 25% of the global population planning to migrate away from their home country permanently in pursuit of better employment, Dr. Mogahed predicted that Jobs are becoming the “new global resource”  driving human migration and motivation

This is a just a small, unrepresentative sample of some of the points and findings that were discussed at the event.   Overall, I found Gallup’s findings to be very interesting and relevant to US foreign policy, and even more so to U.S. public opinion.  As Dr. Mogahed pointed out, a successful democracy needs an informed public, and as many as 57% of Americans claim to know little or nothing about Islam, even now (Gallup 2007).  But don’t take my word for it (as LeVar would say) check out http://www.muslimwestfacts.com/mwf/109345/Issues.aspx for more information on the Gallup’s Poll of the Muslim World and look for some more posts from Kate and Arya!

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