Liberal democracy is possible in Muslim-majority countries

Aug 21, 2014

A new study by University of Toronto and University of Tübingen researchers suggests that Islam is not as much of an impediment to liberal democracy as is often thought.

"One of the key markers for a successful liberal democracy is a high degree of social tolerance," says U of T sociologist Robert Andersen. "We wanted to see the extent to which this existed in with a majority of Muslims compared to Western countries."

Andersen, U of T sociologist Robert Brym and Scott Milligan of the University of Tübingen used data from the World Values Survey – a global research project that explores people's values and beliefs, how they change over time and what social and political impact they have. They compared levels of racial, immigrant and religious tolerance by age, gender, education level, religiosity, economic development, economic inequality and other factors in Muslim-majority and Western countries.

"We found that people living in Muslim-majority countries are on average less tolerant than people living in the West," said Brym. "However, a significant part of the reason for this difference is that Muslim-majority countries tend to be less economically developed and more economically unequal than Western countries."

Their study also found that:

  • the most socially tolerant category of people are non-practising Muslims living in Western countries.
  • in Muslim-majority countries, there is no difference between Christians and Muslims in terms of their level of social tolerance.
  • in at least one Western country – France – Christians are less tolerant than Muslims are.

"Our findings suggest that, in Muslim-majority countries, the nature of socio-economic conditions and political regimes supports a relatively high level of social intolerance. Taking these factors into account, Islam still has a significant effect on intolerance in Muslim-majority countries, but that is largely because state and religion are so tightly intertwined," said Brym.

The study, "Assessing Variation in Tolerance in 23 Muslim-Majority and Western Countries," is published in this month's Canadian Review of Sociology.

Explore further: Sri Lanka to tackle online hate speech, says military

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What does Islam say about the fate of others?

May 18, 2012

Since Sept. 11, it has become increasingly common to hear about Muslims who condemn all non-Muslims – or "infidels" – to hell, but this has never been a foundation of Islamic thought, argues a Michigan ...

Think before you travel, researcher says

Aug 13, 2010

Muslim countries are caught between developing their tourism industries and making sure their culture is not eroded in the process, a leading researcher from The University of Queensland says.

The changing landscape of religion

Aug 20, 2014

Religion is a key factor in demography, important for projections of future population growth as well as for other social indicators. A new journal, Yearbook of International Religious Demography, is the first to bring a quan ...

Bangladesh blocks YouTube over anti-Islam video

Sep 18, 2012

Bangladesh has blocked YouTube after the video-sharing website failed to take down an anti-Islam film that has sparked furious protests across the Muslim world, government officials said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Are the world's religions ready for ET?

9 hours ago

In 1930, Albert Einstein was asked for his opinion about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. "Other beings, perhaps, but not men," he answered. Then he was asked whether science and religion ...

User comments : 36

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BSD
2.6 / 5 (10) Aug 22, 2014
I would never know, I won't go and live in an Islamic country to find out. I also don't want Australia to have sizable Islamic minority either, there are too many as there is. Britain is an example of what goes wrong.

As a religion hater, it's bad enough that I have to put up with Christians and all manner of other religious freaks living here.
ryggesogn2
2.7 / 5 (9) Aug 22, 2014
""However, a significant part of the reason for this difference is that Muslim-majority countries tend to be less economically developed and more economically unequal than Western countries.""
Doesn't have anything to do with Islam does it?
"state and religion are so tightly intertwined"
In Islam, state IS the religion. Islam means 'submit'.
Muslims need to demonstrate tolerance before they can ever join with civil societies, and since Muslims are not allowed to become non-Muslim, they must learn tolerance, die, or conquer and convert the world.
julianpenrod
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 22, 2014
A revelation.
In any society where traditional mercantile interests run a lot of the society, "tolerance" is universal. The mentality of the money oriented. Make money from everyone. Don't waste time, effort and money on concerns that don't intrude on people spending. Encouraging things like compassion among a population of haters isn't worth the expense. Even if someone is a mass murderer, as long you can arrange that they don't murder you, their money is as green as everyone else's! But this system seems to lead to the rich getting more and more control, fraternizing unethically with "government", using "government" as just another tool to get rich, finally co-opting or conspiring with crooks in "government". At such a level of massive overall influence, intrinsically enmeshed with "government", the New World Order mentality of trying to fashion total slavish control of the populace begins.
Toiea
2.1 / 5 (7) Aug 22, 2014
IMO every sufficiently rich & stable society will converge into democracy spontaneously. The ancient Greeks managed it quite well, the Muslims would manage it too. The question rather is, if the Muslim countries could become such a rich & stable society under common situation. The energy content of country is sorta metastable, when large differences between countries exist - in similar way, like the balance of matter between cosmic bodies. The energetic rich countries tend to suck these poorer ones in similar way, like the heavy stars tend to suck the matter from these lightweight ones. Also, this convergence represents a reversible & dynamic equilibrium - so there is no warranty for democracy even in the USA (or whatever else country), if this country will get poor enough.
Whydening Gyre
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 22, 2014
IMO every sufficiently rich & stable society will converge into democracy spontaneously. The ancient Greeks managed it quite well, the Muslims would manage it too. The question rather is, if the Muslim countries could become such a rich & stable society under common situation. The energy content of country is sorta metastable, when large differences between countries exist - in similar way, like the balance of matter between cosmic bodies. The energetic rich countries tend to suck these poorer ones in similar way, like the heavy stars tend to suck the matter from these lightweight ones. Also, this convergence represents a reversible & dynamic equilibrium - so there is no warranty for democracy even in the USA (or whatever else country), if this country will get poor enough.

Well stated.
cjn
5 / 5 (4) Aug 22, 2014
FTA:
"Our findings suggest that, in Muslim-majority countries, the nature of socio-economic conditions and political regimes supports a relatively high level of social intolerance. Taking these factors into account, Islam still has a significant effect on intolerance in Muslim-majority countries, but that is largely because state and religion are so tightly intertwined," said Brym.

There is an organic element of most religions which clearly delineate social differences between different members of a society (e.g.: modest garments for women, etc...). If followed strictly as a state religion, then no state Muslim, Christian, Hindu or otherwise would be a "liberal" democracy in the Western-sense. While many Western countries are majority Christian, the vast majority of the population are not strict followers of any religion. Maybe that's the relationship these sociologists should be analyzing.
cjn
2 / 5 (4) Aug 22, 2014
Further, this article assumes that "liberal democracy" is a superior path and something that is desperately desired by these countries, only to have it stymied by an autocrat or Imam. If you wanted to be objective, you'd say that Islam is equally not an inhibitor for liberal democracy, socialism, communism, fascism, or any other type of government.
ryggesogn2
1.6 / 5 (7) Aug 22, 2014
modest garments for women, etc

You understand why societies around the world support this and why religions would encode some form into their doctrine?
Vietvet
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 22, 2014
modest garments for women, etc

You understand why societies around the world support this and why religions would encode some form into their doctrine?


Yes, I understand it. It is a feature of monotheistic religions that fear sexuality and as means to control and demean women. Modest garments are hardly universal.
Toiea
2.7 / 5 (6) Aug 22, 2014
IMO the (type of) religion doesn't represent a huge problem for democracy, until it doesn't represent the main platform of social interaction. For example the USA aren't downright atheist country, 60% of people there still believes in creation and yet it's still more democratic than many atheists countries. Analogously the main problem of racism in the USA isn't the color of skin, but the social situation of colored. The Christianity was a genocidal religion in the same way, like the Islam by now - just before few hundreds of years. As a good example of how the Islam would behave in the wealthy democratic society may serve the Israel - the Judaism is quite similar to Islam in many aspects, yet it's well tolerated with democracy.
supamark23
4 / 5 (4) Aug 22, 2014
""However, a significant part of the reason for this difference is that Muslim-majority countries tend to be less economically developed and more economically unequal than Western countries.""
Doesn't have anything to do with Islam does it?


Actually it's down to totalitarian rule and the support of the US/USSR during the Cold War as these were proxies (that also had oil), along with British colonialism you racist piece of shit.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (9) Aug 22, 2014
The Christianity was a genocidal religion in the same way, like the Islam by now - just before few hundreds of years.


No, it wasn't. The doctrine was not genocidal. Christian doctrine was inappropriately used to acquire power.
The doctrine of Islam IS power and control over those who submit.
This is why one must return to first principles and why conservatives want to return to the first principles of the Constitution. A Constitution that as been twisted and misinterpreted to increase state power by 'liberals'.
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 22, 2014
Compare Hamas and Israel's battle tactics.
"Netanyahu's claim gained some visual substance today when photos were circulated by Hamas of their execution of reported collaborators. All 18 were summarily killed in the streets today. The group included at least 2 women. "
http://www.newswe...iano_t=1
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 22, 2014
" Well, for a start, we can stop taking these losers at their own estimation. Let's treat them, not as soldiers, but as common criminals. Instead of making documentaries about powerful, shadowy terrorist networks, let's laugh at the pitiable numpties who end up in our courts. Let's mock their underpants bombs and their half Jafaican slang and their attempts to set fire to glass and steel airports by driving into them and their tendency to blow themselves up in error."
"At the same time, let's stop teaching the children of immigrants to despise the British state. Let's stop deriding and traducing our values. Let's stop presenting our history as a hateful chronicle of racism and exploitation. Let's be proud of our achievements – not least the defence of liberty in two world wars in which, respectively, 400,000 and nearly a million Muslims served in British uniforms."
http://blogs.tele...or-isis/
supamark23
3.3 / 5 (7) Aug 22, 2014
The Christianity was a genocidal religion in the same way, like the Islam by now - just before few hundreds of years.


No, it wasn't. The doctrine was not genocidal. Christian doctrine was inappropriately used to acquire power.
The doctrine of Islam IS power and control over those who submit.
This is why one must return to first principles and why conservatives want to return to the first principles of the Constitution. A Constitution that as been twisted and misinterpreted to increase state power by 'liberals'.


You really need to shut the fuck up with your racist shit. You have such a distorted view of Islam it's just pathetic.
Toiea
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 22, 2014
The doctrine was not genocidal. Christian doctrine was inappropriately used to acquire power.
The Quran is not aggressive by its very nature. It's just used "inappropriately", i.e. misused. And conversely the Bible (the Old Testament in particular) also contains lotta violence, fights and brutal scenes which enforced the national pride & fight of Jews for their religion, in which they were supported with Jehovah often.. In fact, the principle of fighting in both Quran both Bible is self-defensive: the religion served as a meme for collective strategy. The medieval people lived in diaspora without centralized government and without organized defiance they would be defeated easily with every attacker. One of purpose of these books was therefore to motivate the believers into collective defiance against potential attackers for to protect borders of their territory etc.
ryggesogn2
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 22, 2014
The Quran is not aggressive by its very nature.

"Muhammad's belief in Islam and his own role as the "Messenger of God" revolutionized Arabian warfare and resulted in the creation of the ancient world's first army motivated by a coherent system of ideological belief. "
"Muhammad's rise to power was a textbook example of a successful insurgency, in all likelihood the first such example in antiquity. The West has been accustomed to thinking of the Arab conquests that followed Muhammad in purely conventional military terms. But the armies that achieved those conquests did not exist in Arabia before Muhammad"
http://www.histor...phet.htm

I don't recall Jesus leading an army to conquer the world.
Toiea
1 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2014
You really need to shut the fuck up with your racist shit
You probably shouldn't defend the peaceful character of Islam so aggressively, or you could completely miss your target...;-) It's the people, who are getting aggressive under certain social and political situation - not their religion. In my perception the people do behave as rather dumb bacteria, which are starting to cannibalize each other once they get into troubles.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (3) Aug 22, 2014
modest garments for women, etc

You understand why societies around the world support this and why religions would encode some form into their doctrine?


Yes, I understand it. It is a feature of monotheistic religions that fear sexuality and as means to control and demean women. Modest garments are hardly universal.

I didn't think you would understand.
It's to control men and protect women.
Not long ago in the US women who were raped were judged by what clothes they were wearing. This still happens is some countries.
So like a typical regulatory state, minimize the temptation instead of vigorously prosecuting the crime.
I was told by a Saudi men are weak so women must be covered so they won't temp the men.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Aug 22, 2014
peaceful character of Islam

What peaceful character?
According to the experts on Islam, the Saudis, if you can't read the Koran in the original Arabic, its not valid. They say the Bible is not valid as it been interpreted so the any interpretation of the Koran is invalid.
Ancient Arabic is likely to be something like old English for English speakers. Difficult to read and interpret.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (4) Aug 22, 2014
The Christianity was a genocidal religion in the same way, like the Islam by now - just before few hundreds of years.


No, it wasn't. The doctrine was not genocidal. Christian doctrine was inappropriately used to acquire power.
The doctrine of Islam IS power and control over those who submit.
This is why one must return to first principles and why conservatives want to return to the first principles of the Constitution. A Constitution that as been twisted and misinterpreted to increase state power by 'liberals'.


You really need to shut the fuck up with your racist shit. You have such a distorted view of Islam it's just pathetic.

I didn't know you were Muslim.
What does race have to do with Islam?
ormondotvos
not rated yet Aug 22, 2014
Democracy and secularism go hand in hand. Otherwise, it's a theocracy. One is the will of the people, the other is the will of the priests.

Democracy, of course, turns into corpocracy, as bribery becomes institutionalized. Citizens United is your text here.

We're doomed. There's no path to equality and fairness. The only path is blocked by MRAPs.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (4) Aug 22, 2014
Citizens United is your text here.

Unions don't count?
Citizens United expanded free speech. Now anyone, not just socialist supporters, can get spend their money to have their message heard.
Why do the 'liberal' democrats have most billionaire donors? They depend upon the state to protect them from their customers.
ormondotvos
5 / 5 (2) Aug 22, 2014
Further, this article assumes that "liberal democracy" is a superior path and something that is desperately desired by these countries, only to have it stymied by an autocrat or Imam. If you wanted to be objective, you'd say that Islam is equally not an inhibitor for liberal democracy, socialism, communism, fascism, or any other type of government.


Except you'd be wrong. This discussion is not about the desires of nations, but of people, as individuals. Islam inhibits individualism itself. That's what "submit" means. Bad religion.
ormondotvos
not rated yet Aug 22, 2014
You really need to shut the fuck up with your racist shit
You probably shouldn't defend the peaceful character of Islam so aggressively, or you could completely miss your target...;-) It's the people, who are getting aggressive under certain social and political situation - not their religion. In my perception the people do behave as rather dumb bacteria, which are starting to cannibalize each other once they get into troubles.


Religions don't have ideas or attitudes. People do, and religions reflect both flaws and ideals.
ormondotvos
5 / 5 (2) Aug 22, 2014
Citizens United is your text here.

Unions don't count?
Citizens United expanded free speech. Now anyone, not just socialist supporters, can get spend their money to have their message heard.
Why do the 'liberal' democrats have most billionaire donors? They depend upon the state to protect them from their customers.


Corporations aren't people, and speech isn't collective. Bad axioms.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Aug 22, 2014
"Last year, several billionaires were busy putting their money where their mouths were in an attempt to push amnesty, disguised as "immigration reform," on a Congress that everyone thought was ripe for the issue. But ever since the border crisis erupted, forcing Congress to adjourn for the summer without taking action, those billionaires have suddenly gone silent.

As noted by Politico, earlier this year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, and Citigroup executive Carlos Gutierrez were all pumping millions into the push for amnesty, but with the upcoming midterm elections looming, not one of these billionaires is buying ad time to push the issue. "
http://www.breitb...y-Silent
Zukerberg is a 'liberal'.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Aug 22, 2014
Corporations aren't people, and speech isn't collective. Bad axioms.


Then there must be NO laws regulating corporations. With regulation comes lobbying.
Lobbying to keep the law from making laws detrimental to their business or trying to support laws that limit competition.
No collective group must allowed to have free speech rights then, including unions, newspapers, ...
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 23, 2014
Arabs and Jews are the same?
http://www.tpnn.c...minutes/
I don't think so.

The problem is really simple. Arabs, and many others, hate the Jews because they envy the Jews.
Any culture that is successful is envied and hated by cultures and individuals that don't have the discipline, the culture of success and refuse to look in the mirror and change their ways.
Toiea
1 / 5 (1) Aug 23, 2014
IMO the nature of question about peaceful existence of Islam is similar to debate, whether something exist inside of black hole. From theoretical perspective it's pretty much possible, but in real world we cannot observe it until we all change significantly. The Arab ethnic did become a defensive identity in the contemporary world, where the Asians and South American cultures are already on the rise. The Arabs did money from oil, but due to corruption and primitive political culture they wasted their income of the last decades. They built skyscrapers but no factories. IMO the main problem of Muslims today aren't USA or else external power, but the Islam itself.The history teaches us, the religion and ideologies did become peaceful just after when one half of their people murdered mutually. IMO the contemporary conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims is an analogy of medieval Thirty years war between catholics and protestants.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Aug 23, 2014
Shia and Sunni Muslims is an analogy of medieval Thirty years war between catholics and protestants.


Why?
30 years is much shorter than than 1500 years.
The 30 years more was more political than religious.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Aug 24, 2014
"For one thing we need to scrap the concept of multiculturalism, of letting different cultures co-exist inside Britain as if they were equal to our own free, western values. Sharia courts in the UK should be immediately dismantled. We need to pull 'faith' out of education. 'Faith schools' (another Blair obsession) have been cynically used by Islamists to peddle their own political views, promote Sharia law, and anti-Semitic and anti-women attitudes (as was seen recently in Birmingham). "
"It should be made clear to everyone that if you live in Britain, you live by British rules. If you don't like them, you are free to go to a country that has the rules you do like."
http://www.breitb...and-ISIS
Toiea
1 / 5 (2) Aug 24, 2014
Ironically enough, most of immigrants leave their country just because of bigot xenophobia, which hates even the people differing very slightly in their religion (Sunnis vs. Shias as an example). But once they visit another country, they do expect complete tolerance, including the tolerance to the religion, for which they would be immediately shotted down or stoned in their parent country. Such a hypocritical people indeed cannot be tolerated nowhere.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Aug 24, 2014
expect complete tolerance,

It's one thing to expect tolerance in the sense of being left alone and quite another to expect everyone else to accept and follow your culture.
Tolerance works both ways.
Muslims in Germany demanded the govt force cities and towns to broadcast the call to prayer over public loudspeakers 5 times a day. That's not tolerance.
The only reason they would make such demands is because they can.
I lived in Jeddah for three years. I doubt many non-Muslims demanded the call to prayer NOT blare out 5 times a day.
Western culture needs to be taught again and taught in a way to show how and why it is superior.
MR166
5 / 5 (1) Aug 24, 2014
A true democracy is not the panacea that it is made out to be. Individual rights must also be protected. The coliseum in Rome was a true democracy thumbs up you lived thumbs down you died. Lets suppose that the majority of people vote to institute the slavery of some group. Is the "Will of the People" a proper reason for this to happen?

That is why the US is a Republic and not a Democracy. We are governed by a Constitution. Learned leaders voted in by the people are supposed to make and enforce laws that are constitutionally valid.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Aug 24, 2014
Encouraging things like compassion among a population of haters isn't worth the expense.
Yes especially when hatred and bigotry is an inextricable part of their laws.

"They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman." 2Chron

"18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already... 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed." john3

-Good thing democracies have nothing to do with god.