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Islamic World: Interest in Current Affairs

Gallup's poll of residents in nine predominantly Islamic countries shows that religion tends to take priority over other aspects of everyday life to a greater degree than it does in Western societies. Does that mean following and discussing current affairs is of less concern to residents in these countries? In which countries do residents seem most inclined to follow current events and openly discuss them?

Gallup's survey indicates that most people in the Islamic world do pay fairly close attention to current affairs. Respondents were asked, "How much attention would you say you pay to current affairs?" Answers were given on a scale of "1" to "5", "5" meaning a lot of attention and "1" meaning not much attention at all. In the following six countries, majorities answered with either a "4" or a "5":

  • Saudi Arabia (70%)
  • Jordan (66%)
  • Morocco (65%)
  • Lebanon (62%)
  • Turkey (59%)
  • Kuwait (55%)

The only countries in which majorities of respondents did not answer this question with a "4" or a "5" are Pakistan (38%) and Iran (23%). In Pakistan, 30% of respondents do not follow current affairs much or at all, and nearly half of Iranian respondents (47%) do not follow current affairs much or at all.

Residents were also asked, "To what extent are current affairs part of your daily discussions with friends and relatives?" Overall, smaller percentages of respondents responded affirmatively to this question, although pluralities in six of eight countries still gave either a "4" or a "5":

  • Saudi Arabia (58%)
  • Morocco (56%)
  • Lebanon (52%)
  • Jordan (48%)
  • Turkey (45%)
  • Kuwait (38%)

Again, the countries with the fewest affirmative responses were Pakistan (30%) and Iran (24%). Ironically, Saudi Arabia, which was named in a 2001 Freedom House study as one of the least democratic societies in the region, was found to have the most residents who both follow current affairs and discuss them on a daily basis with friends and relatives.


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