Sunday, July 13, 2008

Why are Muslims Becoming More Liberal?

The Pew Global Attitudes Project has tracked a consistent decline among Muslims in support for Al Qaeda, and an increase in support for liberal democracy since 2001. Different countries vary a lot, and there are still millions of people who think Bin Laden is great. And you don't need a lot of people to form a terrorist threat (although the bigger the base the easier that is). Moreover, there is a lot of belief that 9/11 was a fake, that Muslim economic woes are the fault of imperialism and so on. But everywhere, things seem to be going in the right direction.

I don't think left or right would have expected this. Certainly one of my main reasons for opposing the Iraq war was that it would make these numbers worse. And Muslims didn't like the invasion and occupation of Iraq any more than I thought they would. The neoconservative hope that grateful Iraqis would make everyone else think the US was wonderful did not -- to put it mildly -- unfold as expected.But even though "George" and "Tony" are never going to be fashionable names for Muslim boys, things have not gotten worse since 2003. The direction of these results also casts doubt on the view that illiberalism is inherent in Islam, a view that seems more common now on the right than it did back when W. was popular.

So why is this happening? Is Fukuyama right after all?

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