A growing number of Arabs are fed up with Islam and its religious leaders, according to the largest survey ever carried out in the region. Almost 20% of Middle East Arabs are turning their back on Islam, the survey found.
The study was conducted among more than 25,000 Muslims from 10 Middle East and North African Islamic countries, including the Palestinian-ruled territories.
Compiled by BBC News Arabic and Arab Barometer, a Princeton University-based research network, the analysis also shows that trust in Islamic religious leaders has decreased everywhere in the Muslim world, with the biggest drops in war-torn Iraq and Sudan, but also among the Palestinians.
In addition, confidence in Islamist terror groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood is even lower among Middle East and North African Muslims, declining by as much as 24 percent.
The growing frustration within Islam is especially high among Muslim youth. More than half (52%) of those aged 18-29 in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and the Palestinian territories said they were considering leaving the country.
And there are further signs that the Islamic hold over Middle East Arabs is cracking. One-in-three people surveyed said they felt depressed, with the highest proportion in Iraq (43%), Tunisia (40%) and the Palestinian territories (37%). The numbers for women were much higher, the survey found.
It was not surprising to learn that most Arab nations do not like US President Donald Trump. Just 12% of those surveyed had a positive view of Trump. On the other hand, twice as many (28%) felt positively toward Russia’s Vladimir Putin, while Turkey’s dictator-like President Erdogan received a 51% approval rating.
Arabs may be leaving Islam, but most still view the US as more foe than friend. Sixty percent of respondents in eight of the 11 countries included in the survey said violence against the US was a logical consequence of US involvement in the region. The justifiable use of violence against the US was most pronounced in Lebanon, Yemen and amongst the Palestinians, where 75% or more of those surveyed support this view. Americans need to be aware of these findings.
Respondents also expressed concern over rising disquiet in their home countries: people in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Sudan and Palestinians said they felt they were moving toward dictatorship. More than six in 10 Algerians, and four in 10 Sudanese believe the last elections in their home countries were not free nor fair.
Taking into consideration that Muslims living in Islamic countries are usually forbidden from and fearful of expressing any kind of criticism against their religious leaders or politicians, this survey reveals there is serious disillusionment among Arabs with Islam, and they are now more willing than ever to speak up.
The barbarism of Islamic atrocities, unending Sunni-Shiite civil wars and political corruption are all taking their toll on Middle East Muslims. Add to these the military successes of Israel in every Arab war, as well as the extraordinary economic growth of the tiny Jewish Nation in
their midst, and it is no wonder that Muslims are reconsidering their commitment to a failing Islamic culture.
Islam means “submission,” and these are hopeful signs that its reign of fear and terror over the Arab world is losing its grip.