Washington Post: by Max Fisher.
The Pew Research Center’s vast new study on the views and attitudes of global Muslim populations was bound to create controversy. Like the U.S. public knowledge polls that find that one-third of Americans can’t name the vice president, Pew’s report includes some less-than-flattering pieces of data. And while it’s important not to generalize about entire populations or demographic groups based on one study, some of these numbers are difficult to ignore.
One of the questions, which Pew asked of Muslims in 38 countries from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, was whether or not they support making sharia the official law in the country. In many countries, the answer was overwhelmingly yes, although Pew notes that many respondents said sharia should apply only to Muslims and, just as importantly, that “Muslims differ widely in how they interpret certain aspects of sharia, including whether divorce and family planning are morally acceptable.” Many respondents reject the stricter laws and punishments for which sharia is often, fairly or unfairly, known in the West. In other words, just because some people say they support sharia law does not mean they want to make their neighbors live in a 9th-century-style caliphate.