Poll: No constituency for Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Egypt
By Adam Serwer
Fears that the protests in Egypt would lead to an Islamist takeover have been a point of convergence for the regime of embattled Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak and some on the American right. While the feud between Glenn Beck and Bill Kristol is less about connecting the left to radical Islam than when to do so and how crazy to sound when you do it, Kristol and his allies are at least correct in characterizing Beck's fears as overblown.
A new poll of Egyptians commissioned by the Washington Institute on Near East Policy suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood isn't anywhere near as popular as either Mubarak or paranoid conservatives believe them to be.
This is not an Islamic uprising. The Muslim Brotherhood is "approved" by just 15%, and its leaders get barely 1% in a presidential straw vote. Asked to pick national priorities, just 12% choose shariah over national power, democracy, or economic development. Asked to explain the uprising, economic conditions, corruption, and unemployment (30‐40% each) far outpace "regime not Islamic enough" (7%).
Surprisingly, asked two different ways about the peace treaty with Israel, more support it (37%) than oppose it (22%). Only 18% approve of either Hamas or Iran. And a mere 5% say the uprising occurred because the regime is "too pro-Israel."
The usual caveats about extrapolating too much from a single data point, particularly given the small sample size, apply. I think its also fair to question how comfortable Egyptians might be in speaking frankly about their political views, especially about a group targeted by the regime as much as the MB has been.
This poll though, merely reinforces what has already been reported -- the protests are not being driven by Islamist groups, and they are driven by underlying economic issues and anger with Egypt's repressive government rather than a widespread desire to replace the Mubarak regime with an Islamist theocracy. While it's too early to know how this will all play out, the argument that a transition to democracy in Egypt will lead to an Islamist takeover doesn't seem to hold much water.
By Adam Serwer | February 10, 2011; 8:14 AM ET
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