lots of christians like sharia, too!

when i posted the other day on what egyptians want, i was surprised to find out that, at least according to the world values survey, 50% of christians in egypt agreed or agreed strongly that sharia law would be a good idea for egypt! (click for LARGER images):

this holds true for some christians in other middle eastern/south asian countries as well.

in jordan, 34.5% of roman catholics are cool with sharia law:

in iraq, 40% of roman catholics like the sound of sharia law. on the other hand, 100% of orthodox and other christians were NOT ok with it. (mind you, the numbers are small.)

and in saudi arabia, 93.3% of the (15) christians surveyed really like the idea. there was one hold-out (there’s always one!):

finally, in bangladesh, 29.4% of the hindus surveyed agreed/strongly agreed with sharia; 40% of the five buddhists surveyed agreed with sharia; one roman catholic likes it; a couple of other christians don’t; and the lone jew surveyed was really enthusiastic:

like i said, all of this really came as a…

…to me!

(note: comments do not require an email.)


  1. I won’t pretend to be an expert on Islamic law, but I believe that so long as Christians pay the jizyah, they have a fair amount of autonomy and I seem to remember seeing an article once about the Coptic Pope citing parts of the Qur’an relating to the autonomy of dhimmis in opposing some law put in place by the Mubarak government. My memory is extremely fuzzy on this, but I believe that the law was something that us secular Western types would have approved of.

    So, while yes, the level of support for Sharia amongst Middle Eastern Christians is surprising (the Sudanese Civil War was started over Khartoum’s imposition of Sharia on the south, after all), I suspect that the Christians and Muslims have an arrangement in mind that ensures minimal conflict, particularly in Egypt, which still has a sizable Christian population with a deep tradition in Egypt.


  2. Two points

    1. Surveys in some ‘low trust’ countries are not regarded as confidential, so people will assume that their answers may be read by others.

    2. Christians have been allowed to survive in majority Muslim countries for 1500 years only by practising complete submission to Islam (Dhimmi status); that is the condition for their being allowed to exist.

    Any signs of dissent from Christians leads to persecution and perhaps massacres, no matter how many hundreds of years there has been coexistence – eg Turkey in the 1920s.

    We should know from – e.g. the history of the USSR – that what people are prepared to say they want in public, is not always what they really want.


  3. @bruce – “Surveys in some ‘low trust’ countries are not regarded as confidential, so people will assume that their answers may be read by others.”

    yes. i was wondering how much “duress” (or perceived duress) christian respondents in muslim-majority countries might’ve felt. if i have the time, i may try to find out how the surveys were conducted in each of these countries (i think that is explained somewhere on the wvs site).


  4. @hbdchick – I was thinking about how honestly I personally would answer dangerous questions on a “confidential” questionnaire here in the UK – I conclude that nowadays I would *not* be honest just in case it was not really confidential. (Indeed I would not fill in any such questionnaire – unless it was compulsory).

    And that is in the UK.

    Thirty years ago it was a different matter – but now…

    The local council sent around a ‘confidential’ questionnaire a few years ago, each Q was delivered by hand and each had an unique identifying number in the corner.

    So the people analyzing the questionnaire knew exactly who had answered each form.

    Do I trust the local council to be confidential about this? No.

    And even if I did now; the data could in future be hacked (it has happened), lost, sold, of made available due to some kind of legal action.

    If I was living in a Muslim country as a Christian (which I am – and which I may be doing in future), I would probably never say anything at any time or in any place against Islam – so long as I was allowed to practice my religion in private. That is the deal.


  5. I’ll agree that fear probably plays a role in these survey results, though I will stick to the notion that Egyptian Christians are well aware of and able to cope with the implications of shariah. Now, certainly, even now, they are second class citizens, but I think it’s notable that they’ve survived the twentieth century as a sizable minority, seemingly escaping the genocides that plagued Christians throughout most of the middle east in the early twentieth century


  6. Agree with Bruce Charlton.

    My school was almost all-black. Muhamed Ali came to visit once and all the white kids sitting watching him speak on the stage made sure to have their gaze rigidly fixed on the guy in ultra hero-worship mode.

    Survival tactic.


  7. Some of these sample sizes are too small to be useful.

    In a sample of five people out of a respondent pool of 1,000: if even only two people “bubbled-‘in” the wrong bubble by accident, as will always happen in large surveys, well that could explain some of the stranger results above.

    That is a third explanation for what you see there, besides the two already proposed by Meng Bomin and Bruce Charlton above. (“Going along to get along” and “Fear of social penalties if you are found out”, respectively).


  8. fyi – i looked up the technical data for all of the following wvs surveys…

    egypt 2000, jordan 2001, iraq 2004, saudi arabia 2003, and bangladesh 1996

    …and they were all conducted as personal face-to-face interviews.

    so, yeah, concern about saying something “politically incorrect” could clearly have been a factor.


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