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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

More Gallup dishonesty

The authors of "Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think" continue to produce articles with bits and pieces of their worldwide poll of Muslims with furious spinning to make Muslims look as much like Westerners as possible. This is not surprising - co-author John Esposito has written a number of apologetic books for Islam, including "Islam: The Straight Path", and the other author Dalia Mogahed is Muslim herself. The idea that this book would be objective is laughable, and I've already shown some dishonesty in how the authors present their findings.

A new op-ed by the authors in the Los Angeles Times illustrates their dishonesty as well:
For instance, Gallup found that 72% of Americans disagreed with this statement: "The majority of those living in Muslim countries thought men and women should have equal rights." In fact, majorities in even some of the most conservative Muslim societies directly refute this assessment: 73% of Saudis, 89% of Iranians and 94% of Indonesians say that men and women should have equal legal rights.
Notice the sleight-of-hand - changing the question from one of "equal rights" to one of "equal legal rights" when asking people in Muslim countries. When Muslims are referring to legal rights, they are not thinking about religious rights. Which means that if you would ask Muslims whether women should be able to have up to four spouses as men are allowed to, the answers would not be the same as to the question they asked. Yet if they really supported equal rights as Esposito and Mogahed claim, then they would by definition support polyandry as much as polygamy.

What about Muslim sympathy for terrorism? Many charge that Islam encourages violence more than other faiths, but studies show that Muslims around the world are at least as likely as Americans to condemn attacks on civilians. Polls show that 6% of the American public thinks attacks in which civilians are targets are "completely justified." In Saudi Arabia, this figure is 4%. In Lebanon and Iran, it's 2%.
Again, in this case it appears that how the question is asked is far more important than the supposed answers. Since the authors show that 7% of Muslims condoned 9/11, and other polls show that a far higher number condone attacks on Israeli civilians, the cherry-picking of the answers from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iran proves only that the people answering the poll are more likely to support individual, real world attacks against civilians than some abstract concept of attacking civilians. The fact that there are no Americans publicly celebrating Muslim deaths is proof enough that the methodology for this question was flawed.

Looking across majority-Muslim countries, Gallup found no statistical difference in self-reported religiosity between those who sympathized with the attackers and those who did not.... On the other hand, not a single respondent who condoned the attacks used the Koran as justification. Instead, they relied on political rationalizations, calling the U.S. an imperialist power or accusing it of wanting to control the world.
The authors create a division between politics and religion that is nonsensical in much of the Islamic world. Islam is more than just a religion; it is also a political movement, and the absence of Koranic justification for 9/11 does not necessarily indicate one way or the other that terror-supporters are less religious.

In other words, all that the poll indicates is that the level of religiosity does not indicate a propensity to terror. The implication from the authors that the more religious tend to be more against terror attacks is not borne out, based on the limited information given here.

If most Muslims truly reject terrorism, why does it continue to flourish in Muslim lands? What these results indicate is that terrorism is much like other violent crime. Violent crimes occur throughout U.S. cities, but that is no indication of Americans' general acceptance of murder or assault. Likewise, continued terrorist violence is not proof that Muslims tolerate it. Indeed, they are its primary victims.
This is astonishingly dishonest. Terrorism, by definition, is political, and can only thrive when the political environment - in this case, the Muslim and Arab cultures that permeate these lands - allow it. Comparing it to violent crime is an incredible distortion, and one that has absolutely no basis in any of the polling numbers given here - it quite literally made up.