Thursday, September 18, 2008

Global attitudes report

Many news sources have quoted the Pew Research Center's global attitudes report yesterday. I am all for news sources reading long papers, picking out some interesting tidbits and digesting it for us, but why is it so rare for them to show some kind of link to the original source? Anyway, the full report is here.

The biggest news: negative attitudes towards Jews and Muslims on the increase almost everywhere.

My first thought, especially upon noticing that for example in Spain the dislike of Jews, Muslims and Christians is fairly high: what do they mean by the questions, and what do the respondents mean by the answers? More specifically, do they mean Christians as the people who truly believe in Jesus as the savior, the holy trinity, etc., or do they mean all the folks originally from a Christian family, most of whom express they Christianity only by celebrating Christmas? If somebody asked me how I feel about the religious group X, I would tend to assume the latter, but I am not sure they meant it, and even if they did, I am not sure it was understood that way.

In short: how large a percentage of the perceived anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim and anti-Christian attitudes in each country are just an expression of a general distaste for religion? And how much of the distaste is based on the perception that all/most members of the group are religious?

This reminds me: in Finland I've run several times into people who sort of assume that all the Jews are very religious and actually believe in something, and were a bit disapponted by me. As an ex-boyfriend of mine explained to one of them: "You know how you don't go to church on Sunday? Well, Jews are the people who don't go to a synagogue on Saturday instead."

Another interesting finding is that Muslims are becoming less and less fond of suicide bombings, with Lebanese people's support for suicide bombings falling from 74% in 2002 to 32% now, Pakistanis' from 33% to 5%, and Turks' from 13% to 3%.

Osama is also becoming less and less popular, from 20% to 2% in Lebanon. from 56% to 19% in Jordan. (The biggest decline in Jordan, from about 63% to about 23%, happened between 2005 and 2006. November 9, 2005, by a strange coincidence, happened to be the date of suicide bombings that killed 60 people and 3 suicide bombers in Amman.)

The only country where support for Bin Laden went up, from 44% to 58%, is Nigeria.

On antisemitism: in Western Europe the people under 50 disliked Jews less than the people over 50, in Poland and Russia the other way around.

In Spain, dislike for all three religions is very much up since 2005. Wonder why.

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