This House believes that Muslims are failing to combat extremism

Monday March 03 2008
MOTION PASSED by 70% to 30%

Opinion poll

Poll reveals Saudi Arabia at greater risk from religious extremism than any other country

DOHA, QATAR, March 30, 2008: Nearly a third of all Arabs believe that Saudi Arabia is at greater risk from religious extremism than any other country in the world, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by The Doha Debates.

The survey adds weight to an unusually blunt message from the mainly Muslim participants at the last Doha Debate, filmed on February 3rd, 2008, who criticised their communities around the world for failing to combat extremism. A motion to that effect was carried by more than 70 per cent of the audience. 

During the Debate, Ed Husain, a former Islamic fundamentalist from Britain, accused Saudi Arabia of acting like “a machine”; by pumping millions of dollars into the support of Islamic extremism and criticised its “destruction of our heritage in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina”.

The poll highlights an increasing awareness of extremism throughout the region. Nearly half of all Arabs in the Gulf, Levant and North Africa say they have met someone who holds extreme religious views. They singled out violence or incitement to violence and religious intolerance as the primary characteristics of extremism.

Asked under what conditions violence is permissible, more than 60 per cent cite Western interference in a Muslim country; 55 per cent said offensive words or behaviour would be a legitimate trigger.

The poll, which was conducted between 18th and 23rd March 2008 surveyed the views of 940 people across the Arab world.

More than half the respondents believe that poor religious leadership is to blame for today's extremism – although seven out of ten said the size of the problem had been exaggerated. Eight out of ten believe it provides an excuse for the West to interfere in Muslim countries.

Polling dates: 17 23 March 2008

Download the polling data [PDF]

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