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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Did Sean Hannity Get It Wrong On Purpose?

On Tuesday I heard talk show host Sean Hannity say "eighty-five per cent of all Egyptian people want Sharia Law." Based on my knowledge I found this to be a bit on the bold side, to say the least. So I did a little research.

The only factual basis for this claim came from a 2008 Gallup survey from the Muslim West Facts Project. This poll was taken among Iranian, Turkish and Egyptian citizens in face-to-face interviews. Although the numbers varied slightly, approximately 900 people in each country were interviewed. There was no male/female breakdown as such.

What I found is that the question asked was this: "Should Sharia Law be a source for legislation?" The results were then broken down into questions like:
Does Sharia provide justice for women?
Does Sharia limit the powers of rulers?
Does Sharia protect the rights of minorities?
Within these questions, the percentages were sometimes overwhelmingly high in favor of association with Sharia, (e.g. 97% of Egyptian respondents said Sharia provides justice for women). However, if you read the preamble to the report, you would be hard-pressed to make the over-arching statement "85% of Egyptians favor Sharia Law" unless you had an ulterior motive and confidence your audience wouldn't question your facts.
Gallup asked respondents who had an opinion about the role of Sharia as a source of legislation(those for whom Sharia should be the only source, one of the sources, or not a source) whether they associate certain attributes with Sharia compliance.Ninety percent of Iranians, 91% of Egyptian and 74% of Turks expressed an opinion about the role of Sharia law.
For the full report click here.

Conversely a Pew Research Center poll conducted in 2010 came up with the following results:

59%: democracy is preferable to any other form of government
22%: a non-democratic system is preferable in certain situations
95%: it's good that Islam plays a large role in politics
85%: Islam's influence on politics is good
80%: suicide bombings are never or rarely justified
70%: concerned or very concerned about Islamist extremism in the world
61%: concerned or very concerned about Islamist extremism in Egypt
54%: men and women should be segregated in the workplace
82%: adulterers should be stoned
84%: apostates from Islam should be executed
77%: thieves should be flogged or have their hands cut off

The simple fact of the matter is, Egyptian culture never was, is not now, and will never be a mirror of American culture, so to make judgements and pronouncements based on a narrow cultural view is irresponsible. Broad sweeping generalizations, like Mr. Hannity's, are troubling and dangerous. With a little effort, you can come to the conclusion that the actual facts are just as jarring as the headline butchering of the facts the Right and Left professional propagandists force-feed us.

And in the end, it's the actual facts that will shape history.

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