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Muslims value democracy

Posted by Richard on July 27, 2005

R.J. Rummel points out an astonishing finding from the World Values Survey: Arab Muslims value democracy more highly than any of the other group of societies covered by the survey. Other Muslims value democracy slightly less highly, but still more than most other groups. Rummel cites these findings from the studies of Muslim societies:

The major differences in values lie along two dimensions (75% of the variance) a traditional vs. secular rational dimension, or religiosity vs. economic development; and a survival values vs. self-expression (e.g., economic security over self-expression).

As low income societies, fourteen Islamic societies tend to emphasize tradition and survival values (e.g., low tolerance of outgroups such as gays and women, and low valuation of freedom of speech and political participation), except for Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran, which tend to be more secular-rational.

The correlations between secular ration[al] societies across the globe and freedom is.83.

To the statement that, "Democracy may have problems but it’s better than any other form of government," the people of five Arab countries strongly agreed. See the table below. Note with amazement how this agreement is greater than that for the sample from other regions, such as Western Europe. That for other Muslim nations is a little lower, but still greater than for Latin American and U.S./Canada/Australia/New Zealand.

Rummel’s conclusion? The Bush Doctrine is the right medicine:

As Natan Sharansky wrote in his important and informative book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, what most clearly distinguishes democracy from nondemocracies is that in nondemocracies people live in fear. We see this in the Arab countries. Th[u]s if the democratization the Arab people value is to come, it must come from pressure from the outside. In this, the Forward Strategy of Freedom of President Bush is well aligned with our understanding of the Middle East, and it is working.

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