WASHINGTON - Agence France - Presse
Muslims embrace economic globalization as long as it doesn't mean that Western influences will snuff out their cultural identity, the head of a U.S.-based research and polling group said Wednesday.
In Turkey, those in favor of globalization were not in a majority but they still outnumbered opponents of the trend by 39 percent to 28 percent, according to the poll.
"In the process of economic globalization, Muslims are not separatists," Steven Kull, head of the World Public Opinion, or WPO, think tank and polling organization, told Agence France-Presse, commenting on the results of a broad study published Wednesday.
"Economic integration with the world, they say, is a positive thing but they don't want it to undermine their cultural identity," he said.
WPO polled more than 5,200 respondents over six weeks in January and February this year in predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, the Palestinian Territories and Turkey. Nigerian Muslims, who make up around half the population of the west African nation, were also included in the survey to assess Muslims' positions on globalization and international trade.
Large majorities in Nigeria and Egypt said globalization, "especially the increasing connections of our economy with others around the world," was "mostly good" for their country, the poll showed.
Sixty-three percent of Azerbaijanis, 61 percent of Iranians and Indonesians and 58 percent of Palestinians shared that view.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64 percent on average for all the countries in the survey) saw international trade as beneficial to their country, the poll showed.
"Negative feelings toward the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, European countries, are widely seen as hostility toward the process of globalization, of the inroads of the West into Muslim societies," said Kull.
"But while there is evidence that Muslims do not want their culture to be changed to become like Western culture, we have found that they do want to be involved" in the global economy, he said.
A poll conducted last year by WPO in Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco and Pakistan showed that around three-quarters of respondents in all four countries endorsed the goal of keeping Western values out of Islamic countries.